WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a broad lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the government’s program of secret wiretapping of international phone calls and emails, ruling that none of the plaintiffs has “standing” to sue because they cannot prove their messages were intercepted.
The 5-4 ruling is the latest of many that has shielded the government’s anti-terrorism programs from being challenged in court.
Over the past decade, the justices have repeatedly killed or quietly ended lawsuits that sought to expose or contest anti-terrorism programs, including secret surveillance, mass arrests of immigrants from the Mideast and drone strikes that killed American citizens abroad.
The challenges to the programs of secret surveillance floundered from the start because no one can show they were targeted or that their calls were intercepted. Civil libertarians have described this as a Catch-22, because the government will not reveal information on whose calls and messages have been intercepted.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., speaking for the court’s conservative majority, said the latest lawsuit fails because it was based on “speculation” by lawyers, journalists and activists who feared their messages were being intercepted by the National Security Agency.