Paul Greenberg

Judge Taylor found the NSA's surveillance program unconstitutional not only because Her Honor believes it violates the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches, but the First Amendment, too.

Since the existence of such a program might inhibit what people say in the course of international phone conversations.

Again, it's an interesting point of view. Does this mean libel laws are unconstitutional, too, since they tend to inhibit what folks say in print?

(Gosh, who says this decision is all bad?)

What we have here is a triumph of ideology over law. If this ruling holds up on appeal, it'll be another milestone in the radicalization of the federal judiciary. Judge Taylor's pronunciamento may be the most sweeping example of partisan dogma's replacing legal reasoning since the last convention of the American Bar Association. That's when the ABA solemnly resolved to keep the president of the United States from issuing any statement when he signs a bill into law.

Now a judge is doing her best, or rather worst, to keep this administration from detecting terrorist plots. Somehow I was not surprised to read that Anna Diggs Taylor had been appointed to the federal bench by Jimmy Carter.

Happily, the latest plot to blow up American airliners seems to have been foiled by the authorities in London, but Britain's home secretary - John Reid - has deeply offended that country's left-wing press and legal establishment. They say he's exaggerating the threat from terrorism - or at least that's what they were saying before the latest bomb plot was uncovered.

"They just don't get it," Mr. Reid said of his critics, explaining that Britain "probably faced the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of the Second World War."

Maybe that explains what The Hon. Anna Diggs Taylor has against the National Security Agency: She just doesn't get it.

Michael Chertoff, the head of the Homeland Security Department in this country, does. To quote him the other day, this country needs a legal system that allows the government to "prevent things from happening rather than . . . reacting after the fact." For example, a system that allows the National Security Agency to monitor international calls to and from terrorist suspects in real time.

But unfortunately there will always be some judge somewhere who, contrary to Justice Robert Jackson of sainted memory, confuses the Constitution of the United States with a suicide pact.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.