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Wiretap lawsuit defense challenged in court

Civil liberties groups started a legal challenge Friday to the new federal law designed to dismiss their wiretapping suits against telecommunications companies, saying the statute violates phone customers' constitutional rights and tramples on judicial authority...

In papers filed with Walker, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation attacked the secrecy requirements and argued that Congress and President Bush lack authority to order courts to whitewash constitutional violations.

"If Congress can give the executive the power to exclude the judiciary from considering the constitutional claims of millions of Americans ... then the judiciary will no longer be functioning as a coequal branch of government," Cindy Cohn, the foundation's legal director, said in court papers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle

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