The Bush administration can continue its warrantless surveillance program while it appeals a judge’s ruling that the program is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The president has said the program is needed in the war on terrorism; opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.
The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave little explanation for the decision. In the three-paragraph ruling, judges said that they balanced the likelihood an appeal would succeed, the potential damage to both sides and the public interest.
This is a routine formulation of the classic test for injunctive relief prior to a decision on the merits, and the reversal of the trial judge’s ruling on this standard is a near certain indication that the 6th Circuit will be agreeing with the president on his authority to order the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of al Qaeda contacting its operatives in the United States.
No doubt Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Murtha and Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers will stop at nothing to shackle the president’s ability to conduct this surveillance.