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A prominent Republican — Ted Olson — backed the request for high court review of a spy court ruling, which would be the first of its kind.
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Supreme Court on Monday to unlock the doors to the nation’s foreign intelligence wiretapping court, arguing that Americans have a First Amendment right to ask its judges to disclose secret rulings affecting their privacy.
If the justices take the case, it would be a landmark intervention: Since Congress created the secretive court system to regulate national-security surveillance in 1978, the Supreme Court has never agreed to review any of its decisions. And among a bevy of supporters who signed the petition, one name stood out: the prominent lawyer Theodore B. Olson.
Mr. Olson has helped bolster government surveillance powers in past phases of his storied career. As head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan administration, he secretly blessed National Security Agency tactics. As solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration, he successfully defended part of the USA Patriot Act, a surveillance law Congress enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This time, however, Mr. Olson is putting his weight behind groups who tend to be skeptical of government surveillance powers.
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