Saturday, January 23, 2010

Police State Powers

It is pathetic that Americans seem to be little interested in preserving their Constitutional rights.

Here is an idiotic decision by a judge. He states that if the government does something illegal to everybody, then there can be no judicial relief because the complaint is no longer a "particularized injury" but instead is a "generalized grievance". Under that judicial theory, if the government decides to demand that citizens quarter troops in their homes (great way to reduce the cost of the military!), then there would be no judicial redress. This would be a "generalized grievance" despite the fact that the American revolution was fought over arbitrary state authority that demanded citizen open up their homes and allow British troops to be quartered for free. According to this judicial idiot, if the government simply made a blanket rule that everybody had a "duty" to quarter troops, then nobody could take the case to court because it wouldn't be a "particularized injury". Similarly, I guess, if the government decreed that citizen gather into groups of ten and then each group had to pick out one from the group and then proceed to burn that person at the stake, that outrageous law couldn't be fought by a court case because the government had created a "generalized grievance" and there was no "particularized injury" because everybody ran the same risk of being killed. Nutty!
A federal judge has dismissed Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of AT&T customers challenging the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails.

"We're deeply disappointed in the judge's ruling," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law. Setting limits on Executive power is one of the most important elements of America's system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that."

In the ruling, issued late Thursday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker held that the privacy harm to millions of Americans from the illegal spying dragnet was not a "particularized injury" but instead a "generalized grievance" because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and Internet service.

"The alarming upshot of the court's decision is that so long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "With new revelations of illegal spying being reported practically every other week -- just this week, we learned that the FBI has been unlawfully obtaining Americans' phone records using Post-It notes rather than proper legal process -- the need for judicial oversight when it comes to government surveillance has never been clearer."

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