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Unable to gain any traction on Capitol Hill in their efforts to roll back the White House’s warrantless eavesdropping program, a number of House Democrats are trying their luck in the courts. Last week, 71 Democratic representatives and Independent Bernard Sanders (Vt.) filed amicus briefs in two federal lawsuits challenging the NSA surveillance. The briefs echo many of the public arguments made by opponents of the program: that the post-Sept. 11 Authorization for Use of Military Force did not grant the White House the power to circumvent the federal courts in seeking wiretaps; that the program is a clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches; and that the president overstepped his constitutional powers by authorizing the program without congressional approval. Spearheading the House effort was Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., but penning the briefs pro bono were criminal defense lawyer Barry Coburn of D.C.’s Trout & Cacheris and New York solo practitioner David Gourevitch. The briefs are in support of civil suits brought in Michigan and New York by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, respectively. Legal experts have questioned whether either group will be able to show standing for the suits to proceed. The Justice Department is expected to file reply briefs later this month.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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