Thursday, October 05, 2006

Court allows NSA wiretapping program to continue

The 6th circuit court of appeals unanimously granted a stay on the wiretapping program, allowing it to continue while the appeal process goes through:

The Bush administration can continue its warrantless surveillance program while it appeals a judge's ruling that the program is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The president has said the program is needed in the war on terrorism; opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave little explanation for the decision. In the three-paragraph ruling, judges said that they balanced the likelihood an appeal would succeed, the potential damage to both sides and the public interest.

The ruling itself is fairly straightforward and is likely a hint at what the outcome of this case will be. It essentially says that the stay will only granted if
  1. the applicant has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits
  2. the applicant will be irreparably injured if denied the stay
  3. the other parties will not suffer substantial harm if the stay is granted
  4. the public interest will be served with a stay

The only commentary the panel provided, other than the Approved stamp, was this:

After careful review, we conclude that the standard has been met in this case.

Which means the applicant (the US Dept. of Justice) will likely win the appeal, the US will suffer substiantial and irreparable injury if denied the stay, the plaintiff will not, and the public interest will be served by the program continuing.

In this case, I think the brevity of the ruling speaks quite loudly.