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Pasadena Now: Rep. Schiff Introduces Legislation to Reform FISA Court and Allow Independent, Public Interest Advocate

Rep. Schiff discusses his new legislation to ensure an adversarial process in FISA Court decisions with Pasadena Now:

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, introduced legislation, the Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act. This legislation would allow non-governmental attorneys to participate before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) as “Public Interest Advocates” in significant constitutional cases and reviews of major surveillance programs.

“By allowing a public interest advocate to participate in certain cases and advocate on behalf of the privacy interests of the American people, we can strengthen the protection of our civil liberties,” said Rep. Schiff. “Even though the FISC’s deliberations are necessarily secret in nature, it’s vital that the American people have confidence that there are voices within the process arguing forcefully and effectively on behalf of the Fourth Amendment and privacy concerns of ordinary Americans.”

The Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act would enable the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to appoint a pool of independent, non-governmental attorneys with experience litigating cases implicating privacy interests and Fourth Amendment protections to serve as “public interest advocates.” Once selected, an attorney in the pool would be available for appointment by the FISC in cases involving novel constitutional issues or with broad privacy implications for the American people. An independent adversary would be able to challenge arguments made by the government, offer alternative approaches that are more protective of civil liberties, and argue for strong protections for privacy.

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