Federal Court in Detroit to Review NSA Spying Program

DETROIT -- The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan will appear in federal court here on Monday, June 12, to argue that the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional and should be stopped. This will be the first time a court will hear arguments on the legality of the National Security Agency program.

The ACLU has charged that the program violates Americans’ rights to free speech and privacy under the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. The ACLU also argues that the program violates separation of powers principles by encroaching on Congress’ power to regulate the president’s authority to spy on Americans. 

The ACLU filed the landmark lawsuit in January against the NSA in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, on behalf of a group of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who frequently communicate by phone and e-mail with people in the Middle East. The plaintiffs say the NSA program is disrupting their ability to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship and engage in advocacy. 

Leading up to the Monday hearing, the ACLU of Michigan and Cooley Law School will host two town hall meetings entitled “Spying, Secrecy and Presidential Powers” to discuss the NSA’s spying program and what it means to anyone who uses a phone. The town halls, which take place on Saturday, June 10, in Grand Rapids and Sunday, June 11, in Ann Arbor, will feature John W. Dean, former Legal Counsel to President Nixon. Joining the conversation will be ACLU attorneys and plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including author and NSA expert James Bamford and Nazih Hassan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan.  A webcast of the June 11 town hall meeting will be available live at www.aclu.org/presidentialpower

The case is ACLU v. NSA, Docket No. 06-10204. More information on the lawsuit, including legal documents, fact sheets and statements from the plaintiffs, is online at www.aclu.org/nsaspying. More information on the town halls is at www.aclumich.org.

WHAT: First federal court hearing on the constitutionality of the NSA warrantless surveillance program

WHO: ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson will argue before Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

WHEN: Monday, June 12, 2006, 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: United States District Court for the Eastern 
                District of Michigan
                Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse
                231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Room 1031
                Detroit, MI 48226

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