Supreme Court justices skeptical of harm caused by warrantless wiretapping

Several Supreme Court justices on Monday expressed skepticism over whether those who object to the federal government’s use of warrantless eavesdropping have a right to sue the government.

The federal government vastly expanded its foreign and domestic surveillance capabilities since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, under both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

As the government once again sought to renew its program, lawyers, journalists and human rights advocates raised the alarm over the drastic growth of the U.S. government’s intelligence apparatus, fearing that the government is violating the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizures.

Reuters reported Monday that Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Samuel Alito expressed skepticism during oral arguments for the case — Clapper et al v. Amnesty International et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-1025 — over whether those who object to the warrantless programs could prove that they had endured significant harm, given that the programs are secret.

“Justice Samuel Alito expressed skepticism over Jaffer’s position, saying it could lead to a ‘bizarre’ outcome in which a suspected top terrorist could escape surveillance by hiring American lawyers who can use the statute’s protections,” reported Reuters.

A decision for the case  is expected June 2013.

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