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H.R. 3159 (113th): Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

9/20/2013--Introduced. Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act - Amends the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to require the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (an independent agency that reviews executive branch actions taken to protect the nation from terrorism in order to ensure a balance with privacy and civil liberties) to appoint: (1) attorneys to serve as public interest advocates in proceedings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a judge of the petition review pool, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR), and the Supreme Court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA); and (2) technical and subject-matter experts (including experts of computer networks, telecommunications, encryption, and cybersecurity), not employed by the federal government, to be available to assist such advocates in performing their duties.

Requires such courts, in any matter involving a significant interpretation or construction of FISA, to appoint at least one public interest advocate who will: (1) participate fully with the same rights and privileges as the federal government; (2) represent the interests of the people of the United States in preserving privacy and civil liberties, including with respect to rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution; and (3) have access to all relevant evidence as well as the authority to petition the court to order the government to produce other necessary evidence.

Authorizes such advocates to file motions and briefs, respond to motions or filings made by the federal government, and request rehearings or en banc consideration of a decision.

Permits the FISC to request review by the FISCR, and permits the FISCR to request review by the Supreme Court, when matters before such courts in which a public interest advocate has been appointed involve a question of law in which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion.

Requires the United States and the public interest advocate, when a court has requested such a review, to be given an opportunity to provide written briefs or arguments related to a decision by the FISCR or the Supreme Court to review a ruling.

Allows each relevant court, upon a finding that it would benefit from additional views, to permit participation by amicus curiae.