U.S. District Court judge, Justice William Pauley, dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit alleging that the National Security Agency’s phone records program was unconstitutional, based primarily on his interpretation of the 1979 Smith v. Maryland Supreme Court ruling. But elsewhere in his ruling, the judge made what seems to be a slightly Kafkaesque argument to disregard the ACLU’s statutory claim that the NSA was exceeding the bounds of section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Pauley is essentially saying that the targets of the order have no recourse to challenge the collection of their personal data because Congress never intended for targets to ever know that they were subject to this sort of spying. And that the fact that everyone knows about it now, thanks to Edward Snowden, doesn’t change the targets’ ability to challenge the legality of the order.
By this logic, all the government has to do to prevent anyone challenging a law is to keep the law secret. Additionally, if you break the law, you can’t be told what law you broke, and there’s no need for a trial since your lawyer, a jury, etc. can’t be told either. What a wonderful country we live in! Happy New Year!