A U.S. appeals court in Cincinnati on Friday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President George W. Bush’s domestic spying program adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The appeals court panel ruled by a 2-1 vote that the groups and individuals who brought the lawsuit, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, did not have the legal right to bring the challenge in the first place.
The surveillance program was authorized by Bush to monitor the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens, without first obtaining a court warrant.
It caused a political uproar among Democrats and some Republicans, as well as civil rights activists, who said it violated U.S. law. The Bush administration abandoned the program in January, putting it under court review.
A U.S. district court in Detroit ruled in August last year that the program violated the Constitution and a 1978 law prohibiting surveillance of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without the approval of the special surveillance court.
The Bush administration appealed, and the appeals court in Cincinnati set aside the judge’s decision.
The ruling held that the plaintiffs did not have standing or the legal right to sue. It did not decide the merits of the lawsuit challenging the program as illegal and unconstitutional.
Judge Ronald Lee Gilman dissented. He said he would uphold the ruling last year on the grounds that the program violated the 1978 law.