Federal Court Rules NSA Bulk Collection of Phone Records Likely Unconstitutional
The court's ruling means that the NSA's bulk collection program is skating on thin constitutional ice. Judge Leon clearly rejected the government's claims that the program is an effective anti-terrorism tool.
In a decision sure to rock the debate about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, a federal district court in Washington, DC ruled today that the NSA's program to collect telephone call records is likely unconstitutional. Judge Richard Leon preliminarily enjoined the NSA from collecting the phone call records of two plaintiffs in the case, Larry Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, and co-plaintiff Richard Strange, finding that their constitutional challenge to the program would likely succeed. The court stayed its order pending the government's expected appeal.
"The court's ruling means that the NSA's bulk collection program is skating on thin constitutional ice. Judge Leon clearly rejected the government's claims that the program is an effective anti-terrorism tool,” said Greg Nojeim, the Director of CDT's Project on Freedom, Security & Technology, in response to the ruling.
“The judge refuted the government's legal argument that a 34-year old case involving collection for a few days of the phone records of one person serves as an adequate precedent for this massive program," he added, referring to the 1979 Supreme Court case, Smith v. Maryland.
"The court's decision is sure to inform the debate in Washington about the program as well. It should help propel legislation that would close the program down and damage the prospects of the bill that would codify it," said Nojeim, referring to the USA Freedom Act, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to end the program, and the FISA Improvements Act, the bill reported by the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 31.