WASHINGTON D.C. – A federal judge in Washington ruled Monday that the governmentâ€™s phone records collection program is likely unconstitutional, setting up a major legal hurdle for theÂ ObamaÂ administration, which is desperately trying to preserve the intelligence gathering tool.
The decision is ground-breaking, marking the first time a court has ruled against the program and setting up a fascinating constitutional dispute within the federal courts themselves.
â€œI cannot imagine a more â€˜indiscriminateâ€™ and â€˜arbitrary invasionâ€™ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen,â€ Judge Richard J. Leon wrote in a 68-page opinion. â€œSurely, such a program infringes on â€˜that degree of privacyâ€™ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.â€
Judge Leonâ€™s actual order appears to be narrow â€” he tells the government to stop collecting and retaining the phone records of the plaintiffs who sued to challenge the program.