"In this world where bad guys can cross borders in a fraction of a second ... governments need to blow through every barrier to be able to track bad activity really fast," says Jonathan Winer, a terrorism expert who was deputy assistant secretary of State for international law enforcement under President Clinton. "But they also need to do so with rules and oversight and controls."
Against it: In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that surveillance of communication constituted a "search" as defined by the Fourth Amendment, thus requiring court review.
"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed by Congress in an effort to constrain just the kind of surveillance the president says he's been doing," says Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU.
Where it stands: The Bush administration has asked the appeals court to throw out the ACLU case, saying the issue is moot since the program is now under FISA review. The ACLU says the suit is still relevant because the president maintains he has the right to conduct warrantless surveillance. A ruling is expected in the next few weeks. Congress is considering three bills that would reform the FISA system.
What's happened: Some 1,800 protesters were arrested in New York during the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC). Some have filed a suit against the city and the New York Police Department (NYPD), claiming wrongful arrest and violation of their First Amendment free-speech rights.
Two weeks ago, a federal judge said their case is "of great public significance" because it concerns "the proper relationship" between protesters' rights and police efforts to maintain public order.