In effect, Bush is allowed to continue to break the law because he refuses to release information about his illegal activities.
The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to the warrantless, domestic spying program operated by the Bush administration, in a case originally brought in Detroit by a group of academics, lawyers, journalists and recent immigrants.
The justices' decision, issued without comment, is the latest setback to legal efforts to force disclosure of details of the warrantless wiretapping that began after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We're disappointed," said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU-Michigan, which represented plaintiffs in the case. "We believe that the issues were so important that the Supreme Court needed to review it. But this isn't over yet."
The American Civil Liberties Union wanted the court to allow a lawsuit by the group and individuals over the wiretapping program. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored.
That legal issue, known as standing, had hectored the challenge to the Bush administration's program from the moment the case was filed, according to many legal observers on both sides of the issue. To bring a lawsuit, plaintiffs in a case must show that they have been harmed. With few details about the warrantless spying program known, the plaintiffs had difficulty establishing that they had been harmed.
The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.
ACLU legal director Steven R. Shapiro has said his group is in a "Catch-22" because the government says the identities of people whose communications have been intercepted is secret. But only people who know they have been wiretapped can sue over the program, Shapiro has said.