Senator Rand Paul (shown, R-Ky.) is closer to filing a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for violating the constitutionally protected rights of Americans.
On January 3, The Hill reported that Paul’s office confirmed that he would be filing his complaint “soon.”
Breitbart News, the new home of Senator Paul’s op-eds, broke the news of the impending first shot in what is sure to be a protracted legal battle.
Not everyone is happy to hear of Senator Paul’s progress. In a statement published by Politico, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) reportedly told MSNBC’s Morning Joe program that Senator Paul’s attempts to thwart the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance are “creating … hysteria.”
Perhaps King forgets (or doesn’t care) that on a “daily, ongoing basis,” the NSA unconstitutionally collects the phone log data of millions of Americans. Additionally, through an operation known as PRISM, the federal government’s surveillance apparatus is reportedly directly tapping into the servers of some of the nation’s biggest computer companies: Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others.
Apparently, the libertarian-leaning senator believes that the Supreme Court has the authority to rule on the constitutionality of these surveillance programs.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in June of last year, Paul announced plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration, demanding it provide legal justification for the recently revealed wholesale watching of millions of citizens not suspected of any crime.
“I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level,” Paul said, according to the show transcript. He continued,
I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying, “We don’t want our phone records looked at,” then somebody will wake up and say things will change in Washington.
When asked by host Chris Wallace why he considered the NSA’s surveillance unconstitutional, Paul responded:
Well, you know, they’re looking at a billion phone calls a day is what I read in the press and that doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of privacy. It sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy. The Fourth Amendment says you can look at and ask for a warrant specific to a person, place and the items.
This is a general warrant. This is what we objected to and what our Founding Fathers partly fought the revolution over is they did not want generalized warrants where you could go from house to house with soldiers looking for things or now from computer to computer, to phone to phone, without specifying who you’re targeting.
Specifically, the Fourth Amendment states that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
While unapologetically spying on millions of Americans, the federal government makes no attempt to demonstrate that any of those whose phone records have been seized are suspected of committing some crime. It is a plain and simple violation of the Fourth Amendment in the hope of discovering something that one day might be found to qualify as suspicious. That is putting the cart of culpability before the horse of the Constitution, and the American people are right to insist that the president be held accountable.