The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday against the Administration of Barack Obama, challenging the National Security Agency’s Constitutional authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ communications.
The suit alleges that the Administration is violating citizens’ 1st and 4th Amendment protections.
ACLU said in a statement:
Last week, The Guardian released an order issued by the FISC that compelled a Verizon subsidiary—Verizon Business Network Services (VBNS)—to hand over, on an “ongoing, daily basis,” details for every phone call placed on its network for a prospective three-month period. Collecting those details—”metadata” that reveals who people talk to, for how long, how often, and possibly from where—allows the government to paint an alarmingly detailed picture of Americans’ private lives. The FISC order cited Section 215 as its legal basis, yet the breadth of the authority it granted to the government is simply incompatible with the text of the statute.
As an organization that advocates for and litigates to defend the civil liberties of society’s most vulnerable, the staff at the ACLU naturally use the phone—a lot—to talk about sensitive and confidential topics with clients, legislators, whistleblowers, and ACLU members. And since the ACLU is a VBNS customer, we were immediately confronted with the harmful impact that such broad surveillance would have on our legal and advocacy work. So we’re acting quickly to get into court to challenge the government’s abuse of Section 215…
…With today’s lawsuit, the ACLU is now attacking Section 215 on three legal fronts: in our ongoing FOIA litigation seeking the government’s secret interpretation of the law; in the FISA Court through yesterday’s public-access motion; and now, in a constitutional lawsuit in federal court. When the government is claiming such chillingly expansive surveillance powers, it’s all hands on deck.
Find a copy of the complaint below:
The Constitutionality of the NSA spy program was previously challenged in a lawsuit by Larry Klayman, the former chairman of Judicial Watch, and two other plaintiffs who say the government spied on their Verizon accounts. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claims the tactic “violates the U.S. Constitution and also federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.”