Belfast Project Researchers Appeal To Supreme Court

Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the subpoenas of the Belfast Project.

Researchers for the Belfast Project have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, extending the stay on the Belfast Project materials granted by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer earlier this month until the petition is decided.

In the petition, Ed Moloney, the Belfast Project director, and Anthony McIntyre, one of its lead researchers, presented two questions for review by the Supreme Court.

The first asks whether persons with Article III standing can object to criminal subpoenas of confidential information on the basis of First Amendment or Due Process rights. The second asks what legal standard governs judicial review of subpoenas issued by foreign governments pursuant to Mutual Legal Assistant Treaties (MLAT).

Moloney and McIntyre have long been opposed to the way the subpoenas were served, arguing that the MLAT was improperly applied in the case of the Belfast Project. They were also denied the right to intervene in earlier hearings of the case. In response, the two began their own legal proceedings by filing an appeal for a rehearing of the case en banc, with the intention of preventing the tapes of the Belfast Project from falling into the hands of the Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the originators of the subpoenas.

At the time, the two laid out their arguments for the rehearing of the case.

“The First Circuit decision effectively precludes the assertion of U.S. constitutional rights guaranteed in the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution,” the two wrote. In addition, the two argued that the decision by the First Circuit “bestows upon the PSNI greater powers in relation to the serving of subpoenas in the United States than could be exercised by, for instance, the FBI.”

The Supreme Court only hears around 1 percent of the total appeals filed each year. If the petition for a writ of certiorari is denied by the court, the stay on the materials granted by Breyer will be terminated immediately.

November 19, 2012
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