U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon summed up what a lot of Americans are thinking in a ruling Monday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' phone records likely violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches.
"I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware 'the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,' would be aghast," Leon declared.
The ruling applies only to two plaintiffs who challenged the data-collecting program, and the government is certain to appeal, but the judge's decision and accompanying comments were highly critical of the Obama administration's arguments. There will no doubt be more claims filed against the program following Leon's ruling.
In his ruling, Leon argued that there is little evidence that the collection of data has ever prevented a terrorist attack, as the Obama administration has claimed, and that the plaintiffs "have a substantial likelihood of showing" that their privacy outweighs the government's claimed need to collect the data.
Obviously this is just the first in a long line of court rulings, and there's the possibility that Leon's ruling could be overturned on appeal. Still, it's an important first step in the battle against the Obama administration's ever-growing spying on its own citizens.