In a historic en banc decision, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled last week that there is sufficient standing to proceed with a lawsuit that could require the court to publicly disclose the secret justifications behind the NSA’s electronic surveillance program that was exposed by Edward Snowden.
Never before have all 11 FISC judges collectively heard a case in an en banc review. The 6-5 ruling reverses a previous FISA court decision by FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer, who had ruled that the ACLU and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic lacked the necessary standing to pursue their case in court.
According to the majority opinion, Collyer’s original ruling prematurely hinged on the merits of the movants’ case, rather than their standing. “As that is not what concerns us today, we hold that Movants have sufficiently alleged the invasion of a legally cognizable interest as necessary to establish an injury-in-fact,” states the opinion, written by Judge James Boasberg. As to whether the not the movants’ case has enough merit to entitle them to relief, that must still be determined.