The Constitution’s the boss

From Good Morning Silicon Valley

A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday struck down the National Security Agency’s warrantless domestic surveillance program, calling it unconstitutional and an illegal abuse of presidential power. In a 43-page opinion, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor made quick work of the Bush administration’s “it’s classified” defense, pointing out that the program is not beyond judicial scrutiny. “The Presidential Oath of Office is set forth in the Constitution and requires him to swear or affirm that he ‘will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ ” Taylor wrote. “The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself. We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all ‘inherent powers’ must derive from that Constitution.”

Yes, Ma’am. The Feds are appealing, of course. But an interesting question now looms, namely the legal liability of the phone and internet companies that have been doing the government’s dirty work for it if a higher court rules that it was illegal all along.