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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Block on NSA Spying Put|to En Banc D.C. Circuit

WASHINGTON (CN) - Having stayed an injunction against the U.S. government's bulk collection of phone data, the D.C. Circuit faces a call to hear the case en banc.

Though U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has now found twice that the National Security Agency's collection of cellphone metadata is unconstitutional, the D.C. Circuit has blocked both rulings from taking effect.

A three-judge panel issued the latest stay Monday, replacing an administrative stay the appeals court put on Leon's Nov. 9 ruling last week.

The government argued that the injunction would require it to completely dismantle an important program, going against congressional legislation that would end the program only after a transition period.

"As the government explained to the district court, however, the technical steps necessary to comply with such a targeted injunction would require at least several weeks to complete," the government wrote in its emergency motion. "Absent a stay, therefore, immediate compliance with the district court's injunction would effectively require the abrupt termination of that important counter-intelligence program, as explained below."

The D.C. Circuit's prior reversal turned on the lack of proof that the government ever spied on the conservative activist behind the challenge, Larry Klayman.

To get around this issue, Klayman and his group Freedom Watch added two Verizon Business subscribers as plaintiffs to an amended complaint.

With the government having confirmed that this service was subject to the collection program, Leon found the evidence of metadata seizure eclipsed mere speculation.

Klayman announced Monday evening that he wants the full D.C. Circuit to review the stay, saying "even one day that the Constitution is violated is one day too much."

"Now, obviously gun-shy after the Paris terrorist attacks, the appeals court has again put its head in the sand and not stood up for the privacy rights of We the People," Klayman said in a statement. "Importantly, as Judge Leon pointed out, the Obama [administration] and his NSA had not been able to show, on the court record that its mass surveillance stopped even one terrorist attack, here or overseas."

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