A 2013 anti-NSA demonstration in Washington, DC, following the Edward Snowden revelations. (credit: Elvert Barnes)

The nation’s only successful challenge to the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata surveillance program lasted just one day, as a federal appeals court is allowing the constitutionally suspect program to continue unabated.
The day-long constitutional victory Monday impacted a handful of American lawyers but was blocked Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The government said it would have to shutter the entire program because it was technologically incapable of immediately sifting out the lawyers from the hundreds of millions of people the NSA was routinely spying on. So instead of shuttering the program altogether, the appeals court acquiesced to the government’s concerns and blocked enforcement (PDF) of the lower court’s Monday order.
The outcome means that not a single person has successfully convinced the US court system to halt the surveillance program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden divulged in the summer of 2013. There were plenty of constitutional challenges, too, but none resulted in a decision like Monday’s where a federal judge had ordered the NSA to immediately cease spying on the plaintiffs in a lawsuit.
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