November 8, 2021
Suspicionless Surveillance Undermines Everyone’s Constitutional Rights
SAN FRANCISCO — The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today challenging the FBI’s unlawful and indefensible surveillance of Muslim communities—including Black Muslims and immigrants. In reaction to the arguments made today, Glenn Katon, litigation director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus said:
“In this morning’s two-hour argument, the Justices were as engaged and curious as you could hope they would be on issues involving the FBI spying on Americans in houses of worship. Justice Gorsuch acknowledged the dangers of government overreach by prefacing a question with the comment that ‘In a world in which the national security state is growing every day,’ and Justice Sotomayor noted that few people find out that they are being surveilled by the U.S. government, underscoring the importance of this case to the civil rights of countless people.
“Regardless of the outcome, Imam Yassir Fazaga, Ali Uddin Malik, Yasser AbdelRahim, their families, and their communities have already reshaped many Americans’ understanding of the past 20 years of discriminatory national security programs and the gradual erasure of our constitutional rights. In practical terms for most people in the U.S., this case will determine whether any of us can hold the government accountable when it violates freedoms and rights essential to practicing our faiths freely and expressing our religious, ethnic, and racial identities.
“As the plaintiffs in FBI v. Fazaga made clear today, the FBI’s surveillance, overreach, and profiling tear away at the most fundamental liberties and rights that make up a safe, fulfilled life. Yet, in spite of the government’s secretive and suspicionless programs, community members throughout the country have never let up on their dreams for a country that lives up to its values of equality and inclusion. The Supreme Court has a responsibility to protect our constitutional rights of expression, religion, and association for all people. The outcome of this case – whether we truly commit to these fundamental rights or not – will reverberate for generations to come.”
In September, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.