WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
23 Mar 2011 | | News

Lawsuit against Warrantless Wiretapping to Move Forward

On Monday, a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit challenging the law that authorizes the U.S. government’s secret, warrantless wiretapping program.  WOLA is a plaintiff in this lawsuit, which challenges the constitutionality of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act (FAA).

WOLA will continue to play a role in this case because we believe that the virtually unchecked power that the law provides the executive to secretly monitor Americans’ communications violates fundamental and constitutionally-guaranteed civil rights.

The lawsuit had been dismissed in 2009 when a U.S. district court judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the right to challenge the law.  In a major reversal, Monday’s ruling recognized that the plaintiffs do in fact have standing to challenge the law in court.

As the New York Times editorialized, the court’s decision “might lead to a significant – and far too long delayed – legal review of the statute.”

Establishing the right to challenge the constitutionality of the warrantless wiretapping law does not guarantee such a review, but it is a crucial first step. 

WOLA does not consider defending civil liberties and promoting public safety to be an either/or choice.  We are a plaintiff in this important case because our experience in Latin America shows how the charge of “terrorism” and the shroud of secrecy have been used to justify violations of civil liberties and human rights abuses.  We are part of this lawsuit because it’s critical to our work to protect human rights and strengthen democracy.  We’re proud to stand with our partners and colleagues in defending civil liberties.

For more information on the lawsuit and on the importance of Monday’s appeals court ruling, see the press release of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which originally filed the action in 2008 on behalf of a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor and media organizations, including WOLA.