The challenge brought by Washington's Electronic Privacy Information Center centered on a special judges' panel set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and its order to Verizon to produce data for the NSA.
Congress enacted FISA "to authorize and regulate certain governmental electronic surveillance of
communications for foreign intelligence purposes," EPIC's petition said. "In the act, Congress authorized [FISA] judges ... to approve electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes."
But the FISA court "compelled Verizon Business Network Services to produce to the National Security
Agency, on an ongoing basis, all of the call detail records of Verizon customers."
EPIC wanted the Supreme Court to decide whether "the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court exceeded its narrow statutory authority to authorize foreign intelligence surveillance, under [the federal law] when
it ordered Verizon to disclose records to the National Security Agency for all telephone communications wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."
The Supreme Court refused to step in, without comment. But the refusal sets no precedent, and the high court may be asked to review other challenges in the future.
It was the first NSA challenge to reach the Supreme Court since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden fled the country with a bag of the agency's secrets, eventually finding temporary asylum in Russia, SCOTUSBLOG.com reported.