Back to News & Commentary

The ACLU FISA Lawsuit: Deets

Share This Page
July 10, 2008

So now that we’ve actually filed the lawsuit (our uber-paralegal is on his way back to the office from the courthouse right now), here’re the details on our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the just-signed-into-law FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA):

  1. The defendants in our lawsuits (e.g. the people we’re suing) are John (Mike) McConnell, Director of National Intelligence; Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, Director of the NSA and Chief of the Central Security Service; and Michael Mukasey, Attorney General.
  2. We’ve filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  3. Our superstar roster of plaintiffs (e.g. the people and groups we’re suing on behalf of) include The Nation magazine, journalists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, attorneys David Nevin, Scott McKay, Dan Arshack and Sylvia Royce, and a whole bunch of orgs that run the gamut from Amnesty International to the Global Fund for Women. (You can check out the full list of our plaintiffs online at
  4. Three of our main points:
    • The FAA violates the Fourth Amendment because it allows the government to gobble up the constitutionally protected communications of American citizens and residents without getting individualized warrants, and without specifying the time, place or length of the surveillance, and not specifying how the info gathered will be disseminated, or how long it’ll be kept. (You know, the who/what/where/when/why.)
    • The FAA also violates the First Amendment by chilling lawful expressive speech without adequate justification by authorizing the government to intercept constitutionally protected communications without judicial oversight.
    • The challenged law violates the principle of separation of powers by allowing the government to continue surveillance activities even if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has deemed those activities illegal. (Good idea, right? Asking the government to obey the law?)

There you have it, folks. For the even-easier Cliffs Notes version, check out this video with Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, and two of our plaintiffs, talking about the case:

One thing we can’t emphasize enough is that Congress has not only legalized the Bush administration’s secret NSA spying program, it has given the government even more power to listen to our phone calls and read our emails than even the Bush administration illegally claimed for itself under its secret program. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the lawsuit—including a link to the complaint we just filed, for you lawyers and law-wonks—is available at CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly listed Naomi Wolf as a client in this lawsuit. Naomi Klein is a client. (Thanks Harry!)