The Supreme Court on Monday opted to not take up the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program that collects bulk telephone data of millions of Americans, a decision that arrives as the other two branches of government are moving forward with reforms to the controversial practice.
The denial leaves in place a lower-court ruling late last year that described the NSA’s collection of phone “metadata” — such as call times and phone numbers but not the content of conversations — as “almost Orwellian” and a likely breach of the Fourth Amendment. Other federal judges have deemed the program legal.
Lawyer and conservative activist Larry Klayman had chosen to take his case directly to the Supreme Court after District Judge Richard Leon’s high-profile December decision, an unusual move that bypassed the Appeals Court, on grounds the case was of immediate, pressing concern to the public.
But the Supreme Court rejected Klayman’s request Monday by failing to grant the case certiorari, a process that requires four of the nine justices to agree a petition merits the court’s full review.
The Court’s decision to not immediately go ahead with a review of the NSA’s controversial surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden last year means that any changes to it will — for the time being — go through Congress and President Obama, who has already announced a proposal that would require telephone companies, rather than the government, to retain the vast database of phone records. To access that data, the NSA would need to first obtain an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, although the agency could bypass the court in emergency situations.
Obama has said the program will continue in its current state until Congress passes legislation that closely resembles his proposal. A bill introduced last month by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the panel’s top Democrat, echoes Obama’s plan, but would allow the NSA to force companies to turn over particular records that would be go through court review after the fact.
But even as lawmakers and the president have weighed surveillance reforms, some have urged the judicial branch to help resolve the issue.
“My hope is that the Supreme Court will take this case,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a vocal defender of the intelligence community, said following Leon’s high-profile “Orwellian” ruling last year.
The Supreme Court can still choose to consider cases involving the NSA’s surveillance activities, but Monday’s decision reaffirms expectations that the justices would rather allow the issue to percolate within the circuit courts first.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”