How do you prove your rights have been violated by a secret government program if the details of the program are secret?
That's the essence of the question argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could shape how and whether citizens bring legal action against the government for privacy-rights violations in the name of national security.
The frequently mundane issue of "standing," as it's called, takes on a deeper significance when considered in the context of the legality of the government spying via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, expanded in 2008.
Joseph Heller, author of the classic novel Catch-22, could hardly have imagined a plot so absurd and canted against the civil rights of ordinary people whose emails and calls are likely being monitored by the government.
Think about it: You know the government is conducting wide-ranging, warrantless searches of communication involving at least one party on foreign soil. You suspect your communications are being captured in the dragnet, but you're not sure. Since the information is being collected for intelligence purposes -- not prosecution where it likely eventually would become public -- how can you ever know? ...
After arguments, court observers had mixed perceptions on how justices received the arguments. Some said the court seemed skeptical about the government's request that the case be thrown out over standing. Others believe the case faces an uphill battle. ...
While that may not help the litigants in the case recently argued before the court, lawmakers could -- and should -- put guardrails in place that would rein in the danger of a government spying program with little oversight.
The Denver Post