Clapper v. Amnesty International which challenged the constitutionality of the Foreign Service Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The second circuit found that the plaintiffs- a collection of lawyers, journalists and the odd activist- had standing to challenge the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it is this point only that is on appeal. The second circuit then refused to re-hear the case en banc, prompting Chief Judge Jacobs to issue a rare dissent on the denial to re-hear the case en banc.
The CJ's attack on the veracity of the plaintiffs/lawyers is startling, and the CJ's comparison of the plaintiffs to a disturbed pro se plaintiff suing the CIA for thought control is downright amusing. From the CJ's dissent (you can read it all here):
An assortment of lawyers, journalists and activists,
and organizations representing such people, facially challenge the constitutionality of § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA”... Their claim is that the FAA lowers the standards for obtaining warrants to surveil foreign persons abroad, which has caused the plaintiffs, who are not foreigners, to develop a reasonable fear of being surveilled when communicating with foreigners around the world who are their journalistic sources, clients, human rights victims, witnesses and so on--all of whom are, in plaintiffs’ estimation, potential objects of surveillance. The plaintiffs contend that this fear compels them to communicate with their clients or foreign contacts only in person, at such trouble and expense as to constitute injury that supports standing. ..
To support the otherwise-mysterious idea of injury to these plaintiffs (and causation), the panel opinion relies entirely (even credulously) on affidavits submitted by the plaintiffs, describing their supposed anxieties. But these affidavits employ all the lawyer’s arts to convey a devious impression...
At the risk of being obvious, the purpose of this lawsuit is litigation for its own sake--for these lawyers to claim a role in policy-making for which they were not appointed or elected, for which they are not fitted by experience, and for which they are not accountable. As best I can see, the only purpose of this litigation is for counsel and plaintiffs to act out their fantasy of persecution, to validate their pretensions to policy expertise, to make themselves consequential rather than marginal, and to raise funds for self-sustaining litigation. In short, counsel’s and plaintiffs’ only perceptible interest is to carve out for themselves an influence over government policy--an interest that the law of standing forecloses. For the foregoing reasons, I conclude that the plaintiffs suffered no injury, and certainly none that can be redressed by this Court. In part, that is a function of the frivolous nature of the claim. In that respect, it bears similarity to a pro se plaintiff’s allegation that the CIA is controlling him through a radio embedded in his molar. But, as to the standing analysis, there is this difference: The pro se plaintiff is actually suffering, is truly hoping for redress, and is not bringing suit as a pretext to weigh in on government policy.
Rumpole says: Wow. It's not often the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals writes with sympathy for pro se plaintiffs suing the CIA for thought control. "Politics and standing make strange bedfellows, eh?"