Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced on Friday that he plans to file a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance programs, after garnering more 250,000 signatures through his campaign and related political action committee.
“The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,” said Paul on Friday during in an appearance on Hannity. “So we thought, what better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign-up for a class-action suit.”
“So about six months ago,” he continued, “we began this call, and we now have several hundred thousand people who want to be part of this suit to say to the government and to the NSA, ‘No, you can’t have our records without our permission or without a warrant specific to an individual,’” adding that every American who has a cell phone can join the class-action lawsuit.
The NSA’s collection of phone metadata was revealed in June 2013, thanks to leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Using Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act as justification, the intelligence agency has collected the metadata of virtually every American, even if they’re not subjects of an actual investigation into terrorism.
The controversial program, which opponents say violates constitutional protections, has been the subject of two recent federal court decisions. One of those decisions stated that the program is “very likely unconstitutional,” while the other declared it to be legal.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) reauthorized the NSA phone metadata collection program on Friday, according to the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The Kentucky Republican said that he wants to “overwhelm the government” and show publicly that swaths of Americans object to the collection of their phone records “without [their] permission.”
Outgoing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA) is part of the legal team working on the lawsuit, according to Paul.
“[Cuccinelli] has constitutional expertise, and we’re hoping, with his help, we can get a hearing in court and, ultimately, get this class-action lawsuit — I think the first of its kind on a constitutional question — to take it all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Paul.
Paul, who is thought to be a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, explained that he isn’t opposed to surveilling suspected terrorists, however, he noted that it has to be done in a way that is consistent with the Constitution. He also slammed President Barack Obama’s disregard for Americans’ civil liberties.
Paul is still collecting names to be a party to the class-action lawsuit. You can join by visiting Rand-2016.com.