Top federal court rules against NSA’s phone records program

A federal court has decided that the National Security Agency’s bulk, warrantless collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is illegal.

The sweeping decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday represents a major court victory for opponents of the NSA and comes just as Congress begins a fight over whether to renew the underlying law used to justify the program.

That program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized,” Judge Gerard Lynch wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The law “cannot be interpreted in a way that defies any meaningful limit,” he added.

Additionally, the government’s rationale behind the program represents “a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism,” which was not grounded in a clear explanation of the law.

The Second Circuit’s decision provides the most significant legal blow to the NSA operations to date and comes more than a year after a lower court called the program “almost-Orwellian” and likely unconstitutional. The appeals court did not examine the constitutionality of the surveillance program in its ruling on Thursday.


Congress last reviewed the law in 2011, but even then, many lawmakers were not aware of the details of the NSA’s bulk collection practices.

Because most of the details were kept classified, “Congress cannot reasonably be said to have ratified a program of which many members of Congress – and all members of the public – were not aware,” Lynch wrote.

FK – And that’s the problem. When the bastards vote on laws they haven’t read they need to be dragged down the capital steps by their heels, given a speedy treason trial and hanged on the granite gallows out front. That’s why we need a militia in every county in this country.

McConnell, GOP defend NSA