The judge Richard Leon ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of two plaintiffs and to destroy the records of their calling history. He allowed the government time to appeal the order. Leon ruled that the two men “have a substantial likelihood of showing” that their privacy interests outweigh the government’s interest in collecting the data “and therefore the NSA’s bulk collection program is indeed an unreasonable search under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment,” which says that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
“I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware `the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast,” the judge said.
In his 68-page opinion, Leon said that the government didn’t cite a single instance in which the program “actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.”
“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,” he wrote.
This rule opens the door for more lawsuits by US citizens against their Government and its controversial NSA surveillance program. A program that Judge Leon said it is “Orwellian.”
This is a domestic blow for a program that has international repercussions because of the millions of calls and communications intercepted abroad in many countries, allied and foes, including the tapping of the phones of international leaders.