...you can't sue to prevent them from spying on you.
What kind of sense does that make?SCOTUS Sense
Clapper v. Amnesty International: The case below
Even though they couldn't prove they were being surveilled, all of the plaintiffs argued that they were likely interacting with persons and groups outside the country who were being wiretapped—foreign sources for reporters, activists, and defendants in court cases. They argued they were getting wrapped up in an expanding government initiative of foreign and domestic data collection, and their due-process rights were being violated.
They lost their case in New York district court when a federal judge said they didn't have standing to sue because they couldn't prove they were personally being surveilled. They had nothing more than an "abstract fear that their communications will be monitored" under the new law, wrote the judge.
That order was overturned by a New York federal appeals court, which held that the groups were indeed being injured and should be allowed to sue. They had to take (costly) extra steps to avoid surveillance, and their fear that government agents were listening to them was not "fanciful, paranoid or otherwise unreasonable." It was "extremely likely" that the government would indeed "undertake broad-based surveillance" under the new law, and the advocacy and media groups had "good reason to believe that their communications" would be intercepted, said the appeals panel. The government didn't dispute the fact that those groups were communicating with "likely targets" of surveillance under the new law.
The Court's opinion attacks the group's two main theories supporting their right to sue.
First, there's doubt about whether any surveillance of these groups will take place at all. "It is speculative whether the Government will imminently target communications to which respondents are parties," he states.
"Accordingly, it is no surprise that respondents fail to offer any evidence that their communications have been monitored under §1881a, a failure that substantially undermines their standing theory."
The groups believe the government will target "their foreign contacts," but even that belief is speculative, he notes. "Respondents have no actual knowledge of the Government's... targeting practices." The opinion quotes statements from journalist Christopher Hedges, Scott McKay (an Idaho lawyer who successfully defended a Saudi national against terrorism charges), and previously represented Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the highest-profile detainee at Guantanamo. The journalist and lawyer state that because of the FISA Amendments Act, they have been forced to operate under the assumption that their communications are being monitored.
But because the plaintiffs "have set forth no specific facts demonstrating" their foreign contacts will be monitored, their argument fails. Even if the government did try to get their communications, they have no idea whether the FISA court would authorize that surveillance, the opinion states. Thus, the plaintiffs' theory rests of a "speculative chain of possibilities" that don't establish any impending injury.
As to the costs and burdens of avoiding potential surveillance, the Court is dismissive. "Respondents cannot manufacture standing merely by inflicting harm on themselves based on their fears of hypothetical future harm that is not certainly impending," the Court writes.
Basically, if you can't show some pretty compelling evidence that the government is ACTUALLY spying on you, you can't sue to stop them. So the government just has even more reason to keep their spying on you secret, so you don't sue them, until they can finagle a way to catch you doing something illegal in a way that they CAN legally surveill, and then they can put you away it Gitmo or target you for assassination.