NPR : News

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case Challenging NSA Surveillance

Without comment, the Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's vast collection of telephone and electronic data.

SCOTUSblog reports that this is the first case to reach the U.S. high court since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking documents that shed light on some of the U.S. government's most secret operations.

SCOTUSblog explains:

"The [Electronic Privacy Information Center] plea was filed directly in the Court, without prior lower court action. The group requested that the Justices direct a judge of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to vacate an order he issued in April requiring a branch of the telephone giant Verizon to turn over to the government a vast array of data, including sweeps of U.S. telephone calls and Internet exchanges. The Court very rarely grants such a 'writ of mandamus or prohibition.'

"EPIC had contended that no other court was open to hear a challenge to orders of the FISA Court, so the Supreme Court should consider its case now. The Justice Department had answered that EPIC could attempt to pursue its case in lower courts first, although the government has attempted to thwart review of previous challenges."

Of course, this doesn't mean challenges to NSA surveillance end there. For example, on Friday, a federal court in Manhattan will hear an ACLU challenge to a government program that collects phone metadata in bulk.

Also, as NPR's Carrie Johnson reported in October, the Obama administration is in the process of setting up a test case by revealing to a defendant that "some evidence against them may have come from a secret electronic surveillance program."

Such a revelation would open the door for the defendant to initiate a legal challenge, which potentially could wind its way to the Supreme Court and test the constitutionality of the bulk collection of electronic records.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.