Supreme Court to hear government eavesdropping appeal

The Supreme Court agreed to hear an Obama administration appeal arguing that attorneys, journalists and human rights groups have no right to sue over a law making it easier for intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on foreign communications.

The justices said they would review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in New York that the plaintiffs have the legal right to proceed with their challenge to a 2008 amendment to the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The section at issue allows intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on overseas communications, including phone calls and e-mails, more widely and with less judicial oversight than in the past.

The change meant the U.S. government does not have to submit to a special judge an individualized application to monitor a non-American overseas. Instead, the U.S. attorney general and the director of national intelligence can apply for mass surveillance authorization from the judge.