Constitutional Limitations on Domestic Surveillance

06.07.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The constitutionality of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program was examined from various points of view at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee today.

“The President had ample authority to authorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program under acts of Congress and the Constitution,” said Steven Bradbur of the Justice Department in a prepared statement (pdf).

It’s not so simple, said Louis Fisher of the Law Library of Congress in an extended analysis (pdf). “Federal courts have rejected the theory that the President has ‘inherent’ constitutional authority to engage in warrantless domestic surveillance.”

The President’s program is clearly illegal, argued conservative critic Bruce Fein. “If Congress leaves the Bush administration’s illegal spying programs unrebuked, a precedent will have been established that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for permanent use throughout the endless conflict with international terrorism,” he said (pdf).

See the prepared testimony from the June 7 hearing on “Constitutional Limitations on Domestic Surveillance”.