Introducing a Public Advocate into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Courts: – Select Legal Issues. Andrew Nolan , Legislative Attorney; Richard M. Thompson II , Legislative Attorney; Vivian S. Chu, Legislative Attorney, October 25, 2013.
“Recent revelations about the size and scope of government foreign surveillance efforts have prompted some to criticize the level of scrutiny that the courts – established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) – currently provide with respect to the government’s applications to engage in such surveillance. In response to concerns that the ex parte nature of many of the proceedings before the FISA courts prevents an adequate review of the government’s legal positions, some have proposed establishing an office led by an attorney or “public advocate” who would represent the civil liberties interests of the general public and oppose the government’s applications for foreign surveillance. The concept of a public advocate is a novel one for the American legal system, and, consequently the proposal raises several difficult questions of constitutional law.”