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Judge Rules Against NSA Spying; Congress Should Do the Same

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Source: The Nation

Civil liberties advocates on the left and the right have argued for many years -- but especially in the aftermath of revelations this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden -- that spying by the National Security Agency disregards privacy protections outlined in the Fourth Amendment and is surely unconstitutional. Indeed, as the American Civil Liberties Union has argued, the NSA's "unconstitutional surveillance" represents "a grave danger to American democracy."
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Now, a federal judge has recognized the constitutional concerns.

"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval," wrote US District Judge Richard Leon.

Judge Leon's decision, which will surely be appealed, focuses attention on legal challenges to the spying program. But it also serves as a reminder that Congress can and should act to defend privacy rights.

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"The ruling underscores what I have argued for years: The bulk collection of Americans' phone records conflicts with Americans' privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution and has failed to make us safer," says Senator Mark Udall, D-Colorado, a supporter of legislation to end the bulk collection program. "We can protect our national security without trampling our constitutional liberties."

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said:

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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