Surveillance

Stern on Ackerman and the Speech and Debate Clause

By Paul Rosenzweig
Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 2:16 PM

The other day, Jack posted an excerpt from a Foreign Policy article by Professor Bruce Ackerman, advocating for Senator Wyden to take advantage of the Speech and Debate Clause and disclose classified information about the NSA programs.  I thought I would share this article on the subject by Michael Stern, who used to serve in the General Counsel's office of the House of Representatives and who now blogs at Point of Order on the law relating to legislatures.  He's skeptical of Ackerman's suggestion:

Ackerman seems to be suggesting that Wyden or other members circumvent [existing Senate] procedure and unilaterally release classified information to the public. This is a bad idea. If the Senate or House allows one member to do this with impunity, nothing would prevent other members from making classified disclosures on the same or other topics. Eventually someone will release information that damages national security and/or provokes a public backlash, thereby giving the executive branch a justification for restricting congressional access to classified information.

[Full disclosure:  Stern is a law school classmate and an old friend]