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Hepting Appeals Court Judges Punt to Lower Court

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August 21, 2008

This afternoon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rule on Hepting v. AT&T, the class-action lawsuit against the telecom giant for its collusion with the NSA in its then-illegal wiretapping program. (We say “then-illegal” because Congress legalized the whole shebang, and then some, by passing the FISA Amendments Act last month.) The case now goes back to the district court, where Attorney General Michael Mukasey need only tell the court that they asked AT&T to spy and the legal assurances that went with it, and the judge will dismiss the case. Thanks a lot, Congress!

The ACLU of Illinois’ legal director, Harvey Grossman, is co-counsel in the case with attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Harvey wrote after President Bush obliterated the Fourth Amendment by signing the FISA Amendments Act:

We intend to challenge all efforts to dismiss our cases. We believe that our clients deserve their day in court. Moreover, we believe that pursuing these cases is the only way that the American people will ever know the scope and breadth of the White House’s illegal spying program — since Congress rejected even a straightforward proposal to delay providing immunity to the telecoms until after the Congress conducted a full-fledged investigation of the president’s illegal program.

Our fingers are crossed!

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