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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Surveillance and the First Amendment

A different question on the PRISM lawsuits: Does surveillance, without more, violate the First Amendment? And if so, how? The argument is that having government watching who and when I'm calling chills my speech and my willingness to engage in important speech. Are there cases holding that government action that chills speech, but does not impose or threaten any formal legal consequence, states a First Amendment violation? For a low-tech comparison, if a municipal government announced that police would video record all public gatherings (which presumably would impose a comparable chill), would that state a First Amendment violation?


Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 15, 2013 at 08:38 AM in Constitutional thoughts, First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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I understand we need security measures, but when it infringes on my constitutional rights it becomes too personal.
First it seems like a lot of useless spending, considering that a lot of sleeper cells don't use contract phones. They typically use pre-pay or disposable phones. It feels like there is a lot of ulterior motives here, particularly big brother just wanting to data mine information on Americans to make wielding the axe over our head that much easier !

Posted by: Tomas | Jun 16, 2013 2:10:14 AM

Howard, I just posted some thoughts right above -- sorry to split the conversation but I went on long enough that I thought a separate post would be better.

Posted by: William Baude | Jun 15, 2013 12:04:01 PM

How do you get there? Both cases held the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had not suffered any injury-in-fact. My question is, assuming injury-in-fact, has any right been violated?

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 15, 2013 9:14:29 AM

Laird v Tatum 408 U.S. 1
Clapper v Amnesty International, 133 S. Ct. 1138

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Jun 15, 2013 9:05:09 AM

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