Supreme Court Rules that National Security Concerns Trump Citizens’ Right to Discover Evidence of Illegal Spying

March 4, 2022

The Supreme Court has made it more difficult for U.S. citizens to sue domestic spy agencies that violate their constitutional rights. In FBI v. Fazaga, Yassir Fazaga, a Muslim American, sued the FBI for allegedly surveilling Fazaga alongside thousands of Muslim Americans in southern California. Fazaga claimed the surveillance violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights, along with other statutory rights. The Government moved to dismiss the claims by invoking the “state secrets privilege,” arguing that further litigation would reveal evidence that would harm national security. EPIC joined a coalition headed by the Brennan Center to file an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) allows judges to review sensitive national security matters to determine whether evidence could be disclosed to plaintiffs without revealing state secrets. But the Court ruled that the government’s claim that litigation could harm national security trumped the plaintiff’s right to uncover evidence that would vindicate their rights. EPIC has long tracked FISA court orders and advocated for FISA reform. EPIC has participated as amicus in several previous cases challenging FISA surveillance, including Wikimedia v. NSA, Smith v. Obama and Clapper v. Amnesty International.

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