At a Glance
CCR filed this amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States on August 10, 2017.
The Center for Constitutional Rights submitted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to take on the case of Mohamed Osman Mohamud.
Mohamud v. United States is one of the first cases to reach the federal courts challenging the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act, the surveillance statute passed in 2008 that authorized incredibly broad surveillance of international communications under the PRISM program revealed by Edward Snowden. Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) after then-Senator Obama switched positions and agreed to vote for the bill. The FAA completely dismantled the target-by-target formula for surveillance under FISA. Prior to the FAA, surveillance orders could only authorize the government to monitor specific individuals or facilities. Under the FAA, by contrast, the government now merely tells the court that it intends to carry out a whole program of surveillance targeting some broad category of unnamed individuals.
The U.S. government hid the fact that FAA surveillance was used in criminal cases from the defendants against who it was used, but once this information became public, the government began informing defendants of it. Mohamud was one of the first to receive such notice. He lost his constitutional challenge to the FAA in his trial court and the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and he is now asking the Supreme Court to grant certiorari, review his case, and hold that the FAA violated the Fourth Amendment because it permits open-ended surveillance of Americans’ international communications without any individualized cause or meaningful judicial oversight. CCR filed an amicus urging the court to take the case on August 10th, 2017. The government will likely file its opposition in the fall and the Supreme Court should decide whether or not to take the case before the end of the year.