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Senator Rand Paul files class action suit against NSA, national security leaders

Rand’s suit claims the NSA’s data collection is unconstitutional

Rand Paul photo via Wikipedia

The NSA has faced its fair share of criticism, not the least of which being from major technology companies caught in the agency’s data collection web. But now, the NSA faces a new foe, potentially from a source it was not expecting — the U.S. Senate.

Senator Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) filed a lawsuit on Feb. 12 against President Obama and the heads of several national security agencies, claiming the NSA’s data collection is unconstitutional. Paul, along with fellow plaintiff conservative nonprofit FreedomWorks, filed the suit as a class action complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Although many lawsuits have been filed calling the NSA’s data collection unconstitutional, Rand’s suit may receive particular attention because of his public nature and his outspokenness against the agency’s secrecy. Rand first threatened to file a lawsuit against the NSA in January.

“Today we ask the question for every phone user in America: can a single warrant allow the government to collect all your records, all the time?” Paul said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “I don’t think so.”

In his lawsuit, Rand claims that he holds standing because the government has “without legitimate legal basis, collected, stored, retained, and periodically searched” the senator’s calls since 2006.

The lead lawyer on the suit is Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the former attorney general of Virginia. Among the other lawyers working on the case is Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration attorney.

Some speculate that NSA data collection may soon be working its way to the Supreme Court, and a high profile suit of Rand’s nature could be the driving vehicle to get it there. However, some Supreme Court justices have expressed reservations in the past that the legal system is more suitable than the legislative branch to adjusting data collection tactics.

“The consequence of that is that whether the NSA can do the stuff it's been doing, which used to be a question for the people, will now be resolved by the branch of government that knows the least about the issues in question, the branch that knows the least about the extent of the threat against which the wiretapping is directed,” said Justice Antonin Scalia in January.


For more on the legal news surrounding NSA data collection that you should know, check this out:

Technology companies form coalition to counter NSA data collection

State lawmakers trying to rein in feds

Supreme Court to weigh in on warrantless cellphone searches

Google privacy chief bashes EU data protection reforms

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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