National Security Agency Headquarters
Trevor Paglen, Wikimedia Commons
The Supreme Court declined Monday to resolve the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata surveillance program, leaving intact what a lower-court judge described as an “almost-Orwellian” surveillance effort in which the metadata from every phone call to and from the United States is catalogued by US spies.
The move by the justices comes as the Obama administration and Congress consider dramatically revamping the spy program disclosed in June by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The petition before the justices, brought by political activist Larry Klayman, concerned a December decision by US District Judge Richard Leon, who wrote in an opinion that America’s founders would be “aghast” (PDF) at the spying. The President George W. Bush appointee stayed his decision, which concluded that the program infringes the Fourth Amendment, pending appeal because of the case’s national security implications.
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