The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is arguing in court against a deadbeat: the U.S. government. In a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU maintains fines should be upheld against the government for lying to a Santa Ana federal judge hearing Islamic Shura Council v. FBI.
Islamic Shura Council v. FBI was filed two years ago to force the government to disclose information about FBI surveillance of “several prominent, law-abiding members of the Southern California Muslim community,” according to an ACLU statement.
“The FBI repeatedly spied on Muslim leaders and organizations–including the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California, and several of their leaders–according to documents released in the case.”
But after the government claimed all data regarding the program had been turned over, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney found this was not true and imposed fines. The government then appealed.
The government's actions throughout the case erode the landmark Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU contends.
“It is hard to imagine any practice more corrosive to our democratic system than government-sanctioned lying to the very courts entrusted with the power to prevent government abuse.,” says Ahilan Arulanantham, ACLU/SC deputy legal director, in the statement. “We are disappointed that the Obama Administration continues to defend this practice, and hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will agree that it must be stopped.”
Professors from 11 leading law schools filed an amicus brief urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold the sanctions, the ACLU notes.