For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Jonathan Hafetz, 212 998–6289, or
Aziz Huq, 212 992–8632, or
Federal Judge Strikes Down Warrantless Spy Program
New York, NY A federal district judge in Detroit today struck down the Presidents warrantless domestic spying program operated by the National Security Agency. The decision by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is yet another setback for the Presidents claim of unchecked executive power, and an important victory for the rule of law.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law applauds Judge Taylors decision. The Brennan Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other leading civil rights organizations, urging the court to invalidate the domestic spying program.
As the Brennan Center brief explained, Democratic and Republican administrations alike engaged in warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans engaged in completely legitimate activities, chilling the exercise of core constitutional rights and undermining the work of civil rights organizations across the country. These abuses were exposed in the mid-1970s by a U.S. Senate committee investigation, known as the Church Committee. The Brennan Centers Senior Counsel, Fritz Schwarz, served as chief counsel to the Committee.
Judge Taylor recounted this history in rejecting the Presidents claim that he can disregard the laws enacted by Congress and the protections provided under the Constitution. In particular, she cited the extensive record developed by the Church Committee. She also rebuffed the administrations claim that claims of secrecy can shield illegality.
As the judges opinion shows, the statute that President Bush violated was not some abstract legalism, says Michael Waldman, the Brennan Centers Executive Director. It was created because of real previous abuses in the name of national security. This is a victory for the rule of law. Todays decision is the latest in a series of setbacks in the courts for the Bush Administration.
The Liberty and National Security Project of the Brennan Center works to ensure accountability, transparency, and checks and balances in the formulation and implementation of national security policy. It is founded on the belief that these are vital for individual liberties and an effective and sustainable counter-terrorism strategy.