Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Supreme Court Won't Allow Challenges to Surveillance

In the News on Feb 26, 2013  
From an AP News story

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t allow a challenge to the Surveillance law (FISA) on the grounds that the challengers (group of lawyers, journalists, and organizations) cannot prove that the government will monitor their conversations.  According to the AP release, Justices “have been reluctant to endorse standing theories that require guesswork” said Justice Samuel Alito.    In other words, just because a law exists that COULD be misused, the law cannot be challenged until an actual violation has occurred.  Well, well.  Apply that same logic to the Gun control debate. How can the government act to restrict legal firearms or ammunition, or component parts, on the theory that someone might misuse them?   

Alito also said the FISA expansion merely authorizes, but does not mandate or direct, the government monitoring. Because of that, he said, "respondents' allegations are necessarily conjectural. Simply put, respondents can only speculate as to how the attorney general and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target."

Applying that logic to gun control, doesn’t it follow then that before advancing ANY legislation pursuant to “gun control” the government must first establish a direct causal link between private gun ownership in general, and specific criminal violations perpetrated by people who possess guns illegally in the first place?
The Liberal judges embraced the argument of Jonathan Hafetz, an expert on national security and privacy issues who teaches at Seton Hall University's law school, said, "The decision effectively insulates the government's increasingly broad surveillance powers from meaningful court review, threatening constitutional liberties in the name of secrecy and security." Hafetz used to work for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. So the Liberal position (on this issue) is that the government should be prevented from passing or enforcing a law because IT MIGHT BE ABUSED. 

Personally, I lean more towards the “liberal” position on this one, because I do not favor any law that has such great potential for government abuse, without sufficient checks and balances and some pretty specific guarantees of fundamental liberties.  But applying the logic of majority to other aspects of the relationship between the people and its government, I agree that the government (and the law) must establish a strong cause and effect relationship  between the law, and the behavior the law seeks to remedy. Absent a strong link, I would rather err on the side caution and have a government that governs LESS and lets liberty follow its own path.

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