The nation would benefit from a serious, scholarly and hard-hitting judicial examination of the National Security Agency’s program of warrantless surveillance. . . . Careful judicial scrutiny could serve both to hold the administration accountable and to provide firmer legal footing for such surveillance as may be necessary for national security.
Unfortunately, the decision yesterday by a federal district court in Detroit, striking down the NSA’s program, is neither careful nor scholarly, and it is hard-hitting only in the sense that a bludgeon is hard-hitting. The angry rhetoric of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor will no doubt grab headlines. But as a piece of judicial work — that is, as a guide to what the law requires and how it either restrains or permits the NSA’s program — her opinion will not be helpful. . . . .
. . .her opinion, which as the first court venture into this territory will garner much attention, is unhelpful either in evaluating or in ensuring the program’s legality. Fortunately, as this case moves forward on appeal and as other cases progress in other courts, it won’t be the last word.