Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor came under attack from conservatives last month after ruling the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program is both illegal and unconstitutional. Christian Coalition Chairwoman Roberta Combs derided the decision as “radical judicial activism” by a “Jimmy Carter-appointed judge.” Combs’ criticisms were echoed by Republicans in Congress and other groups supportive of the Bush administration.

But President George W. Bush’s allies have more to be worried about in the federal courts than just Taylor’s decision. Indeed, if the legality of the NSA’s surveillance program ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court — where many observers think it’s headed unless Congress manages to intervene — it’s unclear whether Taylor’s ruling in Detroit will be the case that got it there. That’s because Justice Department lawyers are currently engaged in tough battles related to the surveillance program in three other federal courts.

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