The Supreme Court declined Monday to resolve the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's bulk telephone metadata surveillance program, leaving intact what a lower-court judge described as an "almost-Orwellian" surveillance effort in which the metadata from every phone call to and from the United States is catalogued by US spies.
The move by the justices comes as the Obama administration and Congress consider dramatically revamping the spy program disclosed in June by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.The case that this article discusses is Klayman v. Obama, where the District Court for the District of Columbia held that section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which authorizes broad collection of phone dialing information, is likely unconstitutional. I discuss that decision at more length here.
The subtitle to the Ars Technica article is that the case will "likely" end up in the Supreme Court, but the text of the article focuses more on the legislative situation:
The high court's inaction Monday means the future of the phone surveillance program will most likely play itself out in the political theater before the judicial arena. Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the stated provision allowing the bulk collection, expires June 1, 2015.
There are some 30 different legislative packages in Congress on the topic. And Obama said he wants to overhaul the surveillance process altogether by removing the metadata from the possession of the nation's spooks.As I discuss here, I think that Congress is more likely to deal with section 215 than the courts. And Congress's ability to specifically tailor reforms on a wide-ranging basis means that it may be more effective at reforming the law than the courts.