BORDC joins lawsuit vs. dragnet NSA spyingTuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm by Shahid Buttar
Earlier today, BORDC participated in a press conference organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to announce its new lawsuit, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, challenging the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records by the NSA. BORDC is one among nearly 20 organizational plaintiffs, representing a broad swath of diverse Americans outraged by unconstitutional government surveillance.
The lawsuit raises First and Fourth Amendment arguments, in addition to a Fifth Amendment vagueness claim, in challenging Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and the NSA’s dragnet seizures of telecommunications metadata. BORDC was at one point a Verizon business customer, rendering our organization subject to the now infamous FISA court order published by the Guardian after its disclosure by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Because the government has admitted to these dragnet surveillance activities, the standing barrier on which the US Supreme Court justified its decision to ignore the merits of prior legal challenges to NSA abuses (such as Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l) does not apply. Instead, the government’s admission confers indisputable standing to millions of Americans, some of whom have now joined the EFF lawsuit.
First Unitarian Church is a companion case to a prior EFF lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, in which a federal judge just last week rejected the government’s illegitimate assertion of the state secrets privilege, sensibly ruling that:
Given the multiple public disclosures of information regarding the surveillance program, the Court does not find that the very subject matter of the suits constitutes a state secret….In other words, the government’s many attempts to assuage citizens’ fears that they have not been surveilled now doom the government’s assertion that the very subject matter of this litigation, the existence of a warrantless surveillance program, is barred by the state secrets privilege.
BORDC is joined by several organizational plaintiffs from across the political spectrum named in the complaint, including First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, Cal Guns Foundation, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), People for the American Way, and several chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
United by a common appreciation for our nation’s constitutional tradition, despite the bipartisan assault waged by the White House and Congress under the leadership of each of the major corporate political parties, the plaintiffs represent a diverse cross-section of America. During today’s press conference, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar explained that:
You don’t have to have anything to hide in order to be incensed by the state taking your money to watch everything you’re doing….[The] surveillance is offensive in itself.