WASHINGTON (CN) – A challenge of the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of cellphone metadata will return Oct. 8 to the courtroom of the judge who declared it unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
The ruling comes after conservative legal activist Larry Klayman filed an amended complaint to correct the issue the D.C. Circuit took with his standing in the case. The court determined in August that Klayman could not prove the government collected his data because the government has insisted it harvested data from Verizon’s business branch, not Verizon Wireless as Klayman claimed in the suit.
Klayman got around the circuit court’s ruling by including two Verizon business customers, as U.S. District Judge Richard Leon suggested he do at a hearing earlier this month.
The appeals court has yet to rule on Klayman’s motion to expedite the issuance of a mandate that would allow its decision to finally take full effect and for Leon to undertake a more detailed case and issue a ruling.
Nevertheless, Leon set the arguments at the earliest possible date after giving the government time to respond to Klayman’s renewed motion for a preliminary injunction in the hopes the appeals court will have ruled on Klayman’s request to expedited the mandate by that date.
“The judge wanted to move quickly, I wanted to move quickly,” Klayman told reporters after the hearing. “As we said under U.S. v. Mills, one day of a constitutional law violation is one day too much.”
Leon rebuffed Klayman’s continued efforts to allow further discovery on the matter, just as he did at the hearing earlier this month.
Klayman repeated his request to have Leon question government officials with knowledge of the metadata program in chambers, to establish that Verizon Wireless was indeed a target of the harvesting program.
But Leon did not think such questioning would be necessary for the case at hand.
“Keep it as narrow as possible and focus on that,” Leon said.
Klayman told reporters after the hearing he believes there is a “very good chance” Leon will issue a preliminary injunction the day of oral arguments. Leon called the NSA’s program “almost Orwellian” in 2013 when he declared it unconstitutional.
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