|US District Court Judge, Richard D. Leon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Associated Press is reporting that in a ruling, "...with potentially far-reaching consequences, a federal judge declared Monday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records likely violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on unreasonable search. The ruling, filled with blistering criticism of the Obama administration's arguments, is the first of its kind on the controversial program..."
Associated Press Correspondent Frederic J. Frommer reports:
"...Even if NSA's "metadata" collection of records should pass constitutional muster, the judge said, there is little evidence it has ever prevented a terrorist attack. The collection program was disclosed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, provoking a heated national and international debate..."
That would be Judge Richard Leon, a U.S. District Court Judge, who, Frommer says has granted a preliminary injunction against the collecting of the phone records of two men, "...who had challenged the program and said any such records for the men should be destroyed. But he put enforcement of that decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal, which may well end up at the Supreme Court..."
[Source for Court Ruling: The BLT: The Blog Of LegalTimes (legaltimes.typepad.com)]
The ruling states:
"...For the reasons discussed below, the Court first finds that it lacks jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") claim that the Government has exceeded its statutory authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"). Next, the Court finds that it does, however, have the authority to evaluate plaintiffs' constitutional challenges to the NSA's conduct, notwithstanding the fact that it was done pursuant to orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC"). And after careful consideration of the parties' pleadings and supplemental pleadings, the representations made on the record at the November 18, 2013 hearing regarding these two motions,and the applicable law, 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, and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent preliminary injunctive relief. Accordingly the Court will GRANT, in part, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Klayman I (with rspect to Larry Klayman and Charles Strange only) and DENY the Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Klayman II. However, in view of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novely of the constitutional issues, I will STAY my order pending appeal."
The Court (Judge Richard J. Leon) then provides extensive background information (which you can see HERE) then presents the plaintiff's statutory claim under the APA, followed by the plaintiff's constitutional claim under the Fourth Amendment, after which he concludes with:
"...This case is yet the latest chapter in the Judiciary's continuing challenge to balance the national security interests of the United States with the individual liberties of our citizens. The Government, in its understandable zeal to protect our homeland, had crafted a counterterrorism program with respect to telephone metadata that strikes the balance based in large paret on a thirty-four year old Supreme Court precedent, the relevance of which has been eclipsed by technological advances and a cellphone-centric lifestyle heretofore inconceivable. I the months ahead, other Article III courts, no doubt, will wrestle to find the proper balance consistent with our constitutional system. But in the meantime, for all the above rasons, I will grant Larry Klayman's and Charles Strange's requests for an injunction and enter an order that (1) bars the Government from collecting, as part of the NSA's Bulk Telephony Metadata Program, any telephony metadata associated with their personal Verizon accounts and (2) requires the Government to destroy any such metadata in its possession that was collected through the bulk collection progam...However, in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novely of the constitutional issues, I will stay my order pending appeal. In doing so, I hereby give the Government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld,this order will go into effect forthwith. Accordingly, I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the Government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to complyh with this order when, and if, it is upheld. Suffice it to say, requesting further time to comply with this order months from now will not be well received and could result in collateral sanctions..."