WASHINGTON — “I just denied your motion to dismiss,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon told Department of Justice attorney Marcia Berman.
“Do you understand that?” he asked, speaking slowly and deliberately, apparently straining to keep his patience.
The judge appeared frequently perplexed by Berman’s explanations Monday afternoon in the federal courtroom as to why the government was not prepared to argue its case after filing a motion three weeks ago asking him to halt further proceedings while appeals go forward in the nation’s biggest spy case.
Leon had already ruled in December that the National Security Agency had probably violated Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure with its PRISM program.
Monday, the two sides in the case were to argue over whether the NSA had also violated First Amendment rights to free speech and Fifth Amendment rights to due process.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Larry Klayman, announced Monday he has filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to leap-frog the appeals court and decide for itself the question of whether the NSA violated Fourth Amendment rights. Additionally, Klayman agreed last week to drop Verizon as a defendant.
The government attorneys apparently took those developments to mean they would not have to argue the remaining constitutional issues Monday, those involving possible violations of the First and Fifth Amendments.
After the seemingly astonished judge informed Berman that he was denying the government’s motion for dismissal of the case, he chided her that the government had put itself in position where it could be declared in default.
Leon then slowly and deliberately asked the Justice Department attorney, “So, when are you going to answer the complaint?”
Berman said Monday, and Leon accepted that.
Adding to the somewhat unusual circumstances of the trial was the fact the defense table was crowded with five Justice Department attorneys and one from Verizon, while Klayman sat all alone at the plaintiff’s table. Read more via WND...