Second Circuit judges ask: What did Congress know, and when did they know it?
Six days after the first Snowden leak appeared on the front pages of newspapers worldwide, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to stop the mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies. A New York federal judge ruled against the ACLU in December. Today, ACLU lawyers made a second effort, making their case to a three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. It’s the first time a US Appeals Court has considered whether the “bulk telephony” database is constitutional.
Oral arguments stretched on for nearly two hours this morning, an unusually long argument for the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which often gives just 10 or 15 minutes to each side for oral argument in an appeal case. C-SPAN was allowed to record and broadcast the full proceeding, another unusual step in an appeals court that’s nearly always closed to cameras. The proceedings can be viewed on C-SPAN’s website.
ACLU v. Clapper is one of two cases challenging mass surveillance that are now headed to appeals courts. The other case, Klayman v. Obama, was filed in Washington, DC federal courts just one day after the surveillance revelations. In that case, DC-based US District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA’s spying technology was “almost Orwellian” and likely unconstitutional.