U.S. District Court Judge: NSA Mass Surveillance Program Likely Unconstitutional

I believe I can speak for every single libertarian out there when I say that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s decision on the unconstitutionality of the phone collection program is nothing short of exceptional.

According to Judge Leon, the NSA program that gathers phone data made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional due to its violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Justice Department also failed to demonstrate to Judge Leon how the intrusive program has actually helped the government to track terrorists before actual attacks take place.

Leon, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, issued a preliminary injunction that keeps the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to the Verizon cell phone users that led to the lawsuit filed by the conservative legal activist Larry Klayman. Since the first leaks provided by Edward Snowden concerning the massive surveillance program carried out by the National Security Agency, nothing significant has been officially accomplished by lawmakers or activists trying to curb the agency’s snooping programs.

The recent ruling is the first time that a judge considers the metadata gathering program unconstitutional, considering that several judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled the program constitutional.

By stating that the data linked to the time and length of calls is routinely available to telephone companies for billing purposes, the Justice Department was able to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges to rule the program as constitutional. The 1979 Supreme Court ruling Smith v. Maryland was used multiple times by judges who thought the NSA’s surveillance program was constitutional, but that didn’t seem to fly with Leon.

According to his written opinion, “the ubiquity of phones has dramatically altered the quantity of information that is now available and, more importantly, what that information can tell the Government about people’s lives.” He also highlighted the difference between the 1979 case and the current suit filed against the NSA by stating that it would be impossible to “navigate these uncharted Fourth Amendment waters using as my North Star a case that predates the rise of cell phones.”

He upheld the decision by stating that it is impossible to maintain that these programs are constitutional, especially after a close examination of the evidence concerning the data collection’s role in preventing terrorism.

When asked about the ruling, White House press secretary stated that the administration was unaware of Judge Leon’s decision.

At least three more federal courts should be hearing lawsuits filed against the agency responsible for the bulk collection of Americans’ phone data in the near future.

According to judge Leon, one of our founding fathers and the author of our constitution, James Madison, “’who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power’ would be aghast” to learn about the NSA’s mass surveillance program.


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