Under-Standing (In) Yesterday’s Patriot Act Case

Orin Kerr has a thoughtful analysis of yesterday's decision in Mayfield v. United States.

I think Orin has a very strong take on the standing issue — the issue bothered me when I read the decision, and he crystallized what bothered me. I don't know enough about the criminal justice system to know to what extent if any this case differs from the (IMHO wrongly decided) Los Angeles v. Lyons case, but unless the plaintiff's lawyers can do a better job explaining why than the judge did, I think the government stands a good chance of winning on this issue at whichever higher court hears the case last.

And that's a shame. Orin sees the merits as a murky issue given the precedents, especially the Keith case, which is a fair point. Nonetheless, I see this as a pretty clear case given the underlying Constitutional principles. And I have to wonder what set of reasonably likely facts would ever give a plaintiff standing to make these claims in a post-Lyons world.

Being the sort of person who believes that in a constitutional system of government there is no legal right without a remedy (the very idea of 'right' being synonymous to me with 'claim to a remedy' and being disjoint from any issue of natural right which is an utterly separate issue), I am not at all comfortable — indeed gravely dislike — legal doctrines which shield alleged intrusions on our rights from judicial determination. Even if the court were to rule against my view on the merits, I think that's better than ducking behind ahistorical and unjustified standing rules.

There's maybe just enough in the facts here to let a court that wanted to make some new exception to existing standing rules — which are already not that coherent. But I don't see Justice Kennedy as a likely person to do that.

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One Response to Under-Standing (In) Yesterday’s Patriot Act Case

  1. luna 95 says:

    Thanks for the great article! Is a big help for me 😉

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