A federal judge said on Monday that the U.S. government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records is likely unconstitutional and that the government has not shown “a single instance” where the collection has stopped an attack or aided in “achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued the ruling in the lawsuit brought by Larry Klayman. Leon noted that Klayman’s case “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” based on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.
It is noteworthy hat Leon pointed out that the government “does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”
This claim was repeated in Congress multiple times, though the NSA chief later admitted the claims were misleading.
While Leon granted Klayman’s request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily block the program, he stayed the ruling pending government appeal.
Leon wrote that he stayed the injunction due to the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”
“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Leon stated in the ruling. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”
A Justice Department spokesman said Monday that they “believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found,” while adding that they are studying the ruling, according toCNN.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) supported Leon’s decision, noting that it showed that “the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records conflicts with Americans’ privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution and has failed to make us safer,” CNN reports.
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