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Domestic surveillance lawsuit allowed to proceed

[JURIST] US District Judge Vaughn Walker [official profile] of the Northern District of California [official website] ruled Friday that he will allow a class action lawsuit [EFF case backgrounder; JURIST report] filed against the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] to go forward while a prior motion to dismiss the case is on appeal. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [advocacy website] brought the class action wiretapping lawsuit against AT&T [corporate website] in January, alleging that the company had unlawfully provided the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] with access to its facilities and resources to unconstitutionally spy on "millions of ordinary Americans."

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] moved to dismiss the case in July, citing "state secrets" among other concerns. But Walker denied the motion [JURIST report] and ruled [order, PDF] instead that the case can proceed safely because broad media coverage of the surveillance program had neutralized any danger of disclosing state secrets. In early November, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] agreed to hear an appeal [JURIST report] of the decision, prompting the DOJ to file a request [PDF] that Walker delay further proceedings on the rest of the case while the motion for dismissal is appealed, potentially all the way to the US Supreme Court. CNET News has more.

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