Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1304771
 
 

Footnotes (224)



 


 



The Story of United States v. United States District Court (Keith): The Surveillance Power


Trevor W. Morrison


New York University School of Law

November 20, 2008

PRESIDENTIAL POWER STORIES, Christopher H. Schroeder & Curtis A. Bradley, eds., Foundation Press, 2008
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 08-189

Abstract:     
This chapter, prepared for Presidential Power Stories (edited by Christopher Schroeder and Curtis Bradley), tells the story of United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, better known as the Keith case. Keith is the Supreme Court's first and still most important statement on the extent to which the President, acting in the interests of national security, may authorize the warrantless wiretapping or other electronic surveillance of persons within the United States. The case began as a criminal prosecution of members of the radical White Panther Party for the bombing of a CIA office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It took a turn when the government disclosed before trial that one of the defendants had been overheard on a warrantless federal wiretap of domestic organizations that the Attorney General deemed threats to national security. This put the legality of the wiretap in issue. In what the New York Times called a stunning legal setback for the government, the Court concluded that Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillance may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch. Thus, the Court held, a judicial warrant must issue before the government may engage in wiretapping or other electronic surveillance of domestic threats to national security. But the Court also limited its holding to cases involving the domestic aspects of national security, and express[ed] no opinion as to [the surveillance of the] activities of foreign powers or their agents. Both in what it said and what it did not say, Keith has exerted great influence upon the judicial, legislative, and executive approaches to these issues in the years since, including on Congress's passage in 1978 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. As of this writing, it is still the case that the Supreme Court has never upheld warrantless wiretapping within the United States, for any purpose.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: November 21, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Trevor W., The Story of United States v. United States District Court (Keith): The Surveillance Power (November 20, 2008). Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 08-189; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 08-189. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1304771

Contact Information

Trevor W. Morrison (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,044
Downloads: 143
Download Rank: 114,806
Footnotes:  224

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.437 seconds