Matthew A. Wasserman


First Amendment Limitations on Police Surveillance

Matthew A. Wasserman

The Case of the Muslim Surveillance Program

This Note focuses on a single example of targeted domestic surveillance: the “Muslim Surveillance Program” of the New York City Police Department. In considering the constitutionality of the program, this Note attempts to articulate a general legal framework for regulating police surveillance targeting religious and political minorities. Part I discusses the Muslim Surveillance Program and its chilling effects on speech and association. Part II covers questions of standing, concluding that at least some plaintiffs have standing to challenge this program and similar programs of targeted surveillance. Finally, Part III assesses the legality of the program, arguing that while this surveillance is unregulated by the Fourth Amendment, it is subject to First Amendment challenge. The Note argues that a “First Amendment criminal procedure” could fill the gaps in Fourth Amendment coverage by providing for the protection of expressive behavior that is likely chilled by targeted police surveillance. Using the First Amendment to regulate domestic surveillance would require an extension of current case law, but would be a vindication of the central First Amendment value of protecting minority viewpoints, as well as the fundamental principles underlying Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, such as the right to privacy.