Government spying ruled "likely" unconstitutional.

On Monday, a Bush-appointed Federal District Court judge ruled that the N.S.A. is likely violating our Fourth Amendment rights. In a 68-page ruling, Judge Richard J. Leon called the government's collection of so-called meta data “almost Orwellian,” and he was unconvinced by the government's argument that these massive spying programs serve the public interest. He wrote that our government failed to illustrate “a single instance in which analysis of the N.S.A.'s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive.”

Judge Leon made clear that he believes the plaintiffs can prove that government spying violates our Fourth Amendment rights, and issued an injunction to halt the programs. However, he stayed – or put on hold – his own ruling, pending the outcome of the inevitable appeal, “in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case the the novelty of the constitutional issues.” So for now, the government can keep on spying, while privacy advocates and civil rights groups continue their fight to stop government surveillance.

Although this ruling does not yet prevent the N.S.A. from snooping on our communication data, it is the first successful legal challenge against that spying agency. And, it's a sign that our court system could put an end to these massive surveillance programs. Judge Leon wrote that James Madison himself – the author of our Constitution – would be “aghast” to learn of these invasive spying programs. But, it's possible that he would also be proud of the activists, advocates, citizens, and judges who are using that very same document to protect Americans' Fourth Amendment rights.


sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 24 weeks ago

The sad truth is that, since the G W Bush coup, much of the legislation passed seems to have been unconstitutional..specifically with regard to the bill of rights. Ironic, considering the oaths they all take to uphold the constitution.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 24 weeks ago

Good for Judge Leon! Occasionally such surprises can spring from the most unlikely sources. However "almost Orwellian" is an understatement; I'd delete the "almost". (Remember Marc's post about the football game? Amazing...) Any suggestion that NSA's massive snooping free-for-all would be in the public interest or for "security" is simply false pretense. Only an ignoramus or a liar would make such an assertion. It is simply fascism du jour.

My optimism is guarded at best. The Supreme Court has let us down so many times, I'm not holding my breath. But Judge Leon deserves praise for his decision on this matter. - Aliceinwonderland

trueamericavet's picture
trueamericavet 9 years 24 weeks ago

The truth is Judge is now on the GOP hit list. Just saying

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 9 years 24 weeks ago
Quote sandlewould:Ironic, considering the oaths they all take to uphold the constitution.

It's unfortunate that violating an oath to uphold the constitution isn't considered an act of treason.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 24 weeks ago

NSA spying is "likely" unconstitutional??? Likely my... Oh well, I can't complain. Kudos for Justice Richard J. Leon. It just goes to show that we all have a common denominator that binds and hold us together. Regardless as to whether or not you are Democrat or Republican, Left or Right, anyone eventually is going to become resentful of living with the long hand of Uncle Sam up your Yin Yang.Time to end the unsedated slow motion colonoscopy and restore freedom and liberty to our nation. Anything less does disservice to all the brave souls who fought so valiantly to preserve it. It's high time to put aside our petty differences and fight for what we all hold dear and have in common. Stop the forth Reich in it's tracks!

Vegasman56 9 years 24 weeks ago

The rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. We have to determine what the word unreasonable means. Can a computer that is searching through your phone calls, text messages, email or anything else to find keywords can it be considered as unreasonable. And no warrants shall be issued but upon probable cause. Out of that vast amount of data can be collected how can you justify probable cause. Supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the places to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. This last part is impossible to perform with this vast amount of data and personnel. But it falls back again on the definition of the word unreasonable, that will be the key factor in my opinion.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 24 weeks ago

Quote stecoop01:It's unfortunate that violating an oath to uphold the constitution isn't considered an act of treason.

sandlewould and stecoop01 ~ Unfortunate and ironic indeed! However, there is a fundamental set of flaws in swearing oaths. First and foremost they are forbidden by Christ himself.

Quote Jesus Christ, Holy Bible, KJ version-The Book Of Matthew:Matthew 5:33 ¶Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

"...whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." "Swear not at all..." Some powerful words from the son of God, if you ask me. Yet when politicians swear oaths they do so regards to God. I must assume the "Christian" God. How is this not ironic; or, rather, hypocritical. But wait, there's much much more. In our Constitution we have an Amendment that states...

Quote The US Constitution, First Amendment:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Here we have yet another irony. How can swearing an oath have any legal binding when Congressional law cannot respect any establishment of religion? It can't, can it? All it really is becomes a sacrilegious--if not blasphemous--display of intent without any teeth. Two things need to be done. First, honor needs to be restored to Christianity; and, then religion needs to be removed from government. Neither can exist when both are intermingled and mutually dependent. Both sacrifice basic principles and both render each other irrelevant.

I suggest adherence to the basic principles layed down by Christ himself. ie. "Let your communication be Yea, Yea; Nay, Nay..." What ever happened to the power of perjury? It exists when you sign almost any legal document. It is what sends you to prison when you falsely testify in court. It is what verifies your vote when you vote. The power and penalty of perjury is more than efficient in securing honest testimony from any of the common people because the jury system recognizes it as a crime to violate. Therefore, why not simply require our elected officials to agree under penalty of perjury to carry on their respective offices and to hell with swearing oaths of any kind. By eliminating this "religious" tenant that already permeates our legal system and replacing it with a Constitutional one we can avoid the main pitfall that swearing oaths entails--namely, "...for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

It's time to stop these liars from hiding behind the Holy Book and make them accountable for their promises in a court of law. Time to upgrade our way of governance.

Gator Girl 9 years 24 weeks ago

Without some action also against the telecom and internet companies who WILLINGLY give up our private information this is not likely to be ended in any way meaningful. Unfortunately I recently changed from Sprint - who is totally incompetent - to Verizon who, it appears, is more than willing to sell all of its customers out.

This is a good start but is far from being a big finish in any way. Anyone who believes that keeping our government out of OUR personal lives - yes, even IF we do NOT have anything to hide - must act to support any even small piece of legislation which adds to this attempt to stop the NSA from what they are ILLEGALLY doing now. It is YOUR government - even though I know it appears that is is not but that is because WE - you and me - have allowed this to happen by inactivity and apathy. WE can and MUST take back our government from lobbyists and those who would serve to bring us to our knees and create a super master/slave nation to do the bidding of the rich and powerful.

The ball is in our court and what WE do with it is now up to US!! Speak our! Become activist and loud or all hope is lost.

Gator Girl 9 years 24 weeks ago

It is also unfortunate that there is not some way in which we could get the SCOTUS members who are bought and paid for out - such as Scalia and Thomas to be sure and others suspect. Scalia, by way of his mouth at so many GOP and lobbyists functions - has made statements that lead you to believe that his decision on EVERY action coming before this session has already been decided in his mind (?) and he should recuse himself from all of them - and Thomas just walks around with his nose up Scalia's ass so he too must go.

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