[UPDATED 17 DEC 2013; Original text of this post:]
The full .pdf version of the just-released opinion of Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Klayman vs. Obama, challenging the NSA’s “right” to collect telephone metadata from all US phone companies on all US citizens without a search warrant. We just received this document and haven’t yet had the chance to read it; we had a tough time finding it on the US District Court’s website today so we thought you might find this to be helpful. Enjoy!
UPDATE, 17 December, 2013.
The announcement yesterday of the opinion of US District Court Judge Richard Leon is quickly becoming one of the latest examples of capitalist press misrepresentation of a very partial legal victory against the NSA’s vast U.S. domestic spying operations as one of the greatest legal victories since Brown v. Board of Education. As anyone knows who has actually read the opinion, it is anything but that. As usual, the bourgeois press corps is tripping over each other to trumpet the tepid legal opinion only partially in favor of the plaintiffs as “proof that the system works”. We know from the long, difficult history of working class struggle in the United States that the system definitely DOES NOT work for the working class; and this latest legal opinion issued by a Bush-appointed conservative judge does nothing to alter this fact.
The plaintiffs – Larry Klayman (who, according to this Wikipedia article, is ” a politically conservative American public interest lawyer [who] is the founder and the former chairman of Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, as well as Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group”, Charles and Mary Ann Strange and two others (Matthew Garrison and Michael Ferrari) – have initiated two separate motions for preliminary injunctions against the US Government and its spy agency, the NSA, asserting that, by ordering Verizon Communications (in 13-851, “Klayman I”) and AT&T and Sprint (13-881, “Klayman II”) to collect all of their phone call metadata without any evidence that any of the plaintiffs had committed a crime, the US Government has violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the first, fourth and fifth amendments to the US Constitution; the plaintiffs also seek $3.0 billion in compensation for damages resulting from the violations of their Constitutional rights. They have indicated their intent to pursue this as a class action case, but according to Judge Leon, “[the p]laintiffs have not yet […] moved to certify a class in either case and in fact have moved for extensions of time to file a motion for class certification four times in each case.” [Leon, footnote 3, Opinion, 16 December 2013, p. 2] One might conclude from this that the lawyers working this very important civil rights case are perhaps a bit out of their depth here. As right-wing conservatives opposed to “liberal” “activist” (in other words, “pro-civil rights”) judges, they also find themselves in the (for them) uncharted waters of litigating IN FAVOR OF civil rights for perhaps the very first time. That would make anyone’s head swim, no?
Just to clarify the Constitutional issues, especially for the benefit of our non-US readers let’s recapitulate the relevant sections of the Bill of Rights:
First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
[The meaning of these articles are pretty much “self-evident”. If you’d like more info check out this Wikipedia article on the Bill of Rights.]
Judge Leon rules, in fact, quite narrowly and only very partially in favor of the plaintiffs in this case. He rules in favor of the plaintiffs in “Klayman I” since they are, by their own admission, actual customers of a telephone company and not an “Internet Service Provider”, as the plaintiffs in “Klayman II” solely claim to be. Leon is saying that since it is only the telephone metadata that is at issue in this case, any complaints raised by those who are not specifically telephone service subscribers but who merely subscribe to an Internet service provided by a telephone company are not relevant. As if there is any real difference between the two. Many clever pundits in the bourgeois press are yukking it up over Leon’s use of a Beatles analogy to ridicule the Government’s case; but in fact it seems to us that it is Leon who is actually employing the “Ringo Defense” to deny the issues raised by “Klayman II” a hearing in his courtroom.
[To Be Continued – IWPCHI]