Federal Judge Says Mass Surveillance by U.S. Government is ‘Likely Unconstitutional’

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the NSA's broad and massive surveillance of Americans' phone records is likely unconstitutional, but put aside his decision to allow the government to appeal. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in a lawsuit brought by a conservative activist named Larry Klayman that the legal challenge to the massive surveillance program would likely succeed on the grounds that it violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Leon issued a preliminary injunction against the program but suspended the order to allow an appeal by the Justice Department. The DOJ said it was reviewing the decision.

"The court concludes that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the government's bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata, that they have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim (of unlawful search and seizure), and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent…relief,'' Leon wrote is his preliminary decision.

But Leon's most damning comments against the government noted that the Justice Department "does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack.''

"Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation — most notably the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics — I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,'' the judge said.

Similar cases are heading to federal courts, challenging the Justice Department's argument that such wide scale surveillance is necessary to keep Americans and American interests safe.

We will continue to report on this and other cases concerning the government's overbroad surveillance programs.

Source: USA Today

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