The secret court that is supposed to oversee the NSA and prevent it from violating our civil liberties is unusual in its composition: Its 11 members are all appointed by the chief justice of the United States. "In fact, every FISA judge currently serving was
appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts, who will continue
making such appointments until he retires or dies," Ezra Klein explains. "The chief justice
can't choose the judges who rule on health law, or preside over
labor cases, or decide software patents. But when it comes to
surveillance, the composition of the bench is entirely in his
hands and so, as a result, is the extent to which the National
Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation can spy
on citizens." It's an incredible amount of power. So what happens if appeals of FISA court decisions start getting heard by the Supreme Court?
Now that Edward Snowden's revelations have robbed the NSA of the ability to play dumb and possibly given the ACLU standing to challenge its surveillance efforts (among other cases it has affected or may prompt), the odds are better than ever that the Supreme Court will weigh whether to reverse the FISA court, declaring that it was too permissive in what it permitted government to do.