INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor made the right call Thursday when she ruled that the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it, said Christine Tatum, president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Diggs Taylor became the first federal judge to rule on the legality of the NSA’s program, which the White House claims is an effective tool in the fight against terrorism.
“It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights,” Diggs Taylor wrote in her 43-page ruling.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in January on behalf of journalists, lawyers and scholars whose jobs were made more difficult by the secret government program. Journalists have been particularly concerned that their correspondence with overseas contacts has been monitored.
“One of the chief problems with this program is that the power to execute it has been concentrated in the hands of one branch of the government that continues to insist it is entitled to act outside the bounds of checks and balances and accountability,” Tatum said. “It’s hardly far-fetched to think that confidential conversations between journalists and their sources would be monitored without justification.”
The Bush administration plans to appeal Diggs Taylor’s ruling to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said.
To help ensure future victories in the fight against warrantless surveillance activities, the Society urges its members and the general public to contact legislators, asking them to support measures against such government programs. For a complete list of lawmakers, visit www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.