Yesterday, the Supreme Court shut the door on a legal odyssey that lasted over six years, when they refused to reopen a case attempting to hold private telecommunications companies accountable for their participation in the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The justices, without comment, declined to review a lower court’s December decision (.pdf) dismissing the EFF’s lawsuit challenging the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping program. At the center of the dispute was 2008 congressional legislation retroactively immunizing the telcos from being sued for cooperating with the government in a program President George W. Bush adopted shortly after the September 2001 terror attacks.
After Bush signed the legislation and invoked its authority in 2008, a San Francisco federal judge tossed the case, and the EFF appealed. Among other things, the EFF claimed the legislation, which granted the president the discretion to invoke immunity, was an illegal abuse of power.
The warrantless wiretapping program basically dropped off the news pages after the passage of the FISA Amendments Act in 2008. But for those of you not around before then, this was a major cause of the progressive blogosphere. But it failed, as telecom immunity passed. EFF gallantly attempted to overturn the law and cancel its immunity for the telecoms, but to no avail. Basically, both political parties wanted the controversy to go away, and then it did.