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DOJ asks appeals court to block domestic surveillance lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice urged a federal appeals court Monday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the NSA's domestic surveillance program pursuant to the state secrets privilege. In a brief submitted to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the administration appealed an August ruling [PDF, JURIST report] from US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor that the warrantless wiretaps are unconstitutional. DOJ lawyers also argued that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and other plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because they could not show that their communications had been intercepted by the NSA. The ACLU filed the lawsuit [complaint, PDF; ACLU materials] on behalf of journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations having "a well-founded belief that their communications are being intercepted by the NSA." Last month, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the program could continue [JURIST report] pending the appeal process.

Meanwhile, an administrative judge at the Michigan Public Service Commission refused to dismiss [PDF ruling, MPSC case materials] a separate ACLU lawsuit against Verizon Communications and AT&T [corporate websites]. The companies tried to invoke the state secrets privilege in response to accusations that private client information was provided to the NSA. Judge Mark Eyster held that the privilege only applies to the federal government. AP has more.

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