The Right to Challenge: The ACLU Heads to the Supreme Court

October 26, 2012

This Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Artist Rajkamal Kahlon spoke with Director of the ACLU Center for Democracy Jameel Jaffer, the lead attorney appearing before the court.

On Monday October 29, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether a coalition of human rights workers, lawyers and journalists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have the right to challenge the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The law allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor and retain Americans’ international communications without a warrant. Congress is now deliberating the renewal of the law, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

First enacted by Congress in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) regulated the U.S. government’s surveillance of intelligence in the country. In its first incarnation, the law demanded that the government—prior to collecting and monitoring Americans’ communications—obtain warrants.

With President George W. Bush’s authorization just after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the law’s scope greatly expanded, facilitating the launch of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. In 2008, Congress not only backed the NSA’s role, but also expanded it, giving it unprecedented foreign intelligence surveillance powers.

For this Creative Time Reports dispatch I interviewed Jameel Jaffer, the Director of ACLU’s Center For Democracy, who will appear before the Supreme Court this Monday.