The judge who quit the FISA court

The lead story in today’s Washington Post concerns the resignation of Judge James Robertson from the FISA court. Judge Robertson didn’t explain why he resigned but, according to the Post, “two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court’s work.”

Judge Robertson should be respected for his decision, which appears to have been an act of conscience. However, as the Post acknowledges near the end of its story, Robertson is a liberal judge (very liberal, if my my experience is any indication) who “who has often ruled against the Bush administration’s assertions of broad powers in the terrorism fight, most notably in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.” His decision in the Hamdan case was reversed by the unanimous vote of a panel of the D.C. Circuit which included (now) Chief Justice Roberts. The Supreme Court will review that case. The D.C. Circuit ripped Robertson’s opinion and, in my view, justifiably so.

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