Symptoms of legal system problems

The 6th Circuit’s decision on the appeal about the telephone tapping program illustrates just how politicized the legal system has become. The decision was 2-1 and Republican appointed judges vs Democrat appointed judges.

The majority noted that the complaintants had no standing as they could not show that their conversations has been monitored nor could they show any damages or other standard issue for complaint.

The minority said that the program violated a law and should be heard anyway, even without any evidence that it had been used or that anyone had been ‘harmed’ by it.

The politics are the slant in the usual media outlets. Infoworld provides a bit more balanced presentation in Court dismisses lawsuit against US wiretapping

“The plaintiffs cannot show they have been or will be subject to surveillance personally,” Batchelder wrote.

The plaintiff’s attempts to sue for other reasons, including violation of their First-Amendment, free-speech rights, are a “thinly veiled ruse,” the judge added. None of the plaintiffs has shown that their speech has been hindered, she wrote.

There are two key issues here in the allegations against the Bush administration. One is that of illegal conduct. The other is that of suppression of free speech. These are taken as a given by many of the administrations opponents but this case contradicts that reality.

The precedent, and even basis, of legal action is that harm has to occur before a legal remedy is sought. In this case, nobody had their speech impaired or supressed, and there was no harm caused to anyone that can be demonstrated. The suspect actions have not been deemed illegal by the authorities (including Congress) who can prosecute. These facts have not stopped the complaints and political opponents have undertaken the role of public prosecutor. The Appeals Court has, in this decision, said that such behavior should not be supported.

What is important here is that differences of opinion have taken on this form of legal harassment and there has been an a priori pre-judgment of illegality, even by a judge, without a full hearing of all of evidence. It is a case of complaining about being silenced while using the legal system to silence those who do not agree with your views.

Comments are closed.