FISA: Reform

Latest District Court Ruling on NSA Surveillance

By Wells Bennett
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 6:19 PM

Today's ruling in Smith v. Obama grants the government's motion to dismiss, and thus bats away a Fourth Amendment-based challenge to NSA telephone metadata collection---for the reasons one would expect.  Still, there's a hint of reluctance in the opinion; its concluding language, to my eye, reads more like an acknowledgment of the district court's institutional position than a full-throated endorsement of Smith v. Maryland:

Judge Leon’s decision [in Klayman v. Obama] should serve as a template for a Supreme Court opinion. And it might yet. Justice Sotomayor is inclined to reconsider Smith, finding it “ill-suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.” See U.S. v. Jones, 132 U.S. 945, 957 (2012) (Sotomayor, J., concurring). The Fourth Amendment, in her view, should not “treat secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy.” Id.

But Smith was not overruled, and it continues – along with the Circuit decisions discussed above – to bind this Court. This authority constrains the Court from joining Klayman. Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendants’ motion to dismiss and deny Smith’s motion for injunctive relief. The Court will issue a separate Judgment as required by Rule 58(a).