Judge John D. Bates Appointed to the FISA Court

Judge John D. Bates was appointed last month by Chief Justice John Roberts to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Judge Bates of the D.C. District is the eleventh member of the secretive Court, which processes applications for domestic intelligence search and surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

He replaces Judge James Robertson who resigned in December 2005 in what was widely viewed as a protest against the President’s warrantless surveillance program.

The appointment of Judge Bates to the FISA Court has not previously been reported.

When questioned by Secrecy News earlier this week, Justice Department officials refused to divulge the name of the newest FISA Court judge. The Justice officials suggested filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

But Judge Bates himself disclosed the February 2006 appointment in his online bio at the D.C. District Courthouse (thanks to S).

Judge Bates, a Republican appointee, has a distinctly conservative cast to his resume. From 1995-1997, he served as Deputy Independent Counsel to the intensely partisan Whitewater investigation. In 2002, he dismissed (pdf) a lawsuit brought by the congressional General Accounting Office seeking disclosure of records of the Vice President’s Energy Task Force.

But he has also ruled occasionally in favor of Freedom of Information Act litigants. And in 2004, he rejected the Bush Administration’s argument that a U.S. citizen detained abroad under U.S. control cannot invoke habeas corpus.

“The Court concludes that a citizen cannot be so easily separated from his constitutional rights,” Judge Bates memorably ruled (pdf) in Abu Ali v. John Ashcroft.

An FAS roster of FISA Court judges, now including Judge Bates, can be found here.

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