Laird v. Tatum
|Laird v. Tatum|
|Argued March 27, 1972
Decided June 26, 1972
|Full case name||Melvin Robert Laird, Secretary of Defense, et al. v. Tatum, et al.|
|Citations||408 U.S. 1 (more)|
|Respondents' claim that their First Amendment rights are chilled, due to the mere existence of this data-gathering system, does not constitute a justiciable controversy on the basis of the record in this case, disclosing as it does no showing of objective harm or threat of specific future harm.|
|Majority||Burger, joined by White, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist|
|Dissent||Douglas, joined by Marshall|
|Dissent||Brennan, joined by Stewart, Marshall|
Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1 (1972) was a case in which the United States Supreme Court dismissed for lack of ripeness a claim in which the plaintiff accused the U.S. Army of alleged unlawful "surveillance of lawful citizen political activity."
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
Arlo Tatum, the executive secretary of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, sued Melvin Laird, the Secretary of Defense. Tatum sued after Washington Monthly published an article revealing that US military intelligence units were gathering intelligence on civilians and civil organizations in the US.
The Court determined that the plaintiff's claim was based on the fear that sometime in the future the Army might cause harm with information retrieved during their surveillance, but that there was no present threat. Therefore, the claim was too "speculative."
|“||"This case involves a cancer in our body politic. It is a measure of the disease which afflicts us. Army surveillance, like Army regimentation, is at war with the principles of the First Amendment. Those who already walk submissively will say there is no cause for alarm. But submissiveness is not our heritage. The First Amendment was designed to allow rebellion to remain as our heritage. The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people. The aim was to allow men to be free and independent and to assert their rights against government. There can be no influence more paralyzing of that objective than Army surveillance. When an intelligence officer looks over every nonconformist's shoulder in the library, or walks invisibly by his side in a picket line, or infiltrates his club, the America once extolled as the voice of liberty heard around the world no longer is cast in the image which Jefferson and Madison designed, but more in the Russian image."||”|
Participation by Justice Rehnquist
The dismissal of the case was made possible by the timely nomination by Richard Nixon of Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court. Rehnquist had previously testified to Senator Sam Ervin's committee that there were no "serious constitutional problems with respect to collecting data or keeping under surveillance persons who are merely exercising their right of a peaceful assembly or petition to redress a grievance." He further stated that he felt that Laird v. Tatum should be dismissed on the procedural ground that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. Yet he later refused to recuse himself from the case as legal ethicists almost unanimously agreed that he should. After a petition for rehearing was filed based on his participation, Rehnquist issued a memorandum stating that the attack on his impartiality was essentially a criticism of his conservative judicial philosophy, and there had been no actual bias towards the litigant.
- Amnesty v. Blair
- Clapper v. Amnesty International
- Fusion center
- PRISM (surveillance program)
- David Andrew Schultz (2009). Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution. Infobase Publishing. p. 420. ISBN 978-1-4381-2677-7.
- Stempel, Jeffrey W. (1987), "Rehnquist, Recusal and Reform", Brooklyn Law Journal 53: 589, 593–94
- Craig R. Ducat (2008). Constitutional Interpretation: Powers of Government, Volume I (9th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-495-50323-1.
- Christie, George C. (1972). "Government Surveillance and Individual Freedom: A Proposed Statutory Response to Laird v. Tatum and the Broader Problem of Government Surveillance of the Individual". New York University Law Review 47: 871–902.
- Stein, Ralph Michael (1973). "Laird v. Tatum: The Supreme Court and a First Amendment Challenge to Military Surveillance of Lawful Civilian Political Activity". Hofstra Law Review 1: 244.