Via the Associated Depressed, I mean, Press:
CINCINNATI – A federal appeals court ordered the dismissal Friday of a lawsuit challenging President Bush’s domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.
The 2-1 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated a 2006 order by a federal judge in Detroit, who found that the post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance aimed at uncovering terrorist activity violated constitutional rights to privacy and free speech and the separation of powers.
U.S. Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, one of the two Republican appointees who ruled against the plaintiffs, said they failed to show they were subject to the surveillance.
The dissenting judge, Democratic appointee Ronald Lee Gilman, believed the plaintiffs were within their rights to sue and that it was clear to him the program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
Although the Bush administration said in January the program is now overseen by a special federal intelligence court, opponents said that without a court order, the president could resume the spying outside judicial authority at any time. The Justice Department has said the case is moot.
The American Civil Liberties Union led the lawsuit on behalf of other groups including lawyers, journalists and scholars it says have been handicapped in doing their jobs by the government monitoring.
Others have filed court challenges to the program; this case proceeded the furthest. If the ACLU does not appeal, the case will be sent back to the U.S. district judge in Michigan for dismissal.
Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy writes:
I can virtually guarantee that this is not the last we have heard of this case.
Rest assured – the ACLU isn’t going to let this one go.
Orin Kerr has more thoughts on the ruling here.
And, as always, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog explains the ruling in his typical spin-free style.
Update: Glib Fortuna reminds us that this is an overturning of the controversial Anna Diggs Taylor court ruling from a US district court last year, a ruling liberals cheered. I wrote about that ruling here. Fortuna also notes that the ACLU are indeed saying, essentially, that “this isn’t over.”