THE NATION would benefit from a serious, scholarly and hard-hitting judicial examination of the National Security Administration's program of warrantless surveillance. The program exists on ever-more uncertain legal ground; it is at least in considerable tension with federal law and the Bill of Rights. Careful judicial scrutiny could serve both to hold the administration accountable and to provide firmer legal footing for such surveillance as may be necessary for national security.
Unfortunately, the decision yesterday by a federal district court in Detroit, striking down the NSA's program, is neither careful or scholarly, and it is hard-hitting only in the sense that a bludgeon is hard-hitting. The angry rhetoric of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor will no doubt grab headlines. But as a piece of judicial work--that is, as a guide to what the law requires and how it either restrains or permits the NSA's program--her opinion will not be helpful.
(read the rest)
Judge Taylor was a Carter appointee, for what it's worth.