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Supreme Court Showdown Possible For NSA Phone-Tracking Case?

The Justice Department filed a suit Friday appealing a ruling that challenged the constitutionality of the NSA’s phone record collection program.
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jan 03, 2014

Following back-to-back contradictory rulings, the Justice Department moved Friday to appeal a ruling challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s phone record collection program.

The ruling in question was handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on December 16th. He called the program “almost-Orwellian technology” and argued that it “almost certainly” violates a reasonable expectation of privacy. (Via ABC, RT)

According to The Wall Street Journal, the initial ruling “was the first major legal blow to the NSA’s surveillance program. The documents also gave new legal ammunition to critics of government surveillance, who have previously had a hard time proving in court that they had been harmed.”

But less than two weeks later, a second U.S. judge ruled the opposite of the first ruling — saying the collection of phone records was not only lawful, but a quote “vital tool” in the war on terrorism. (Via Fox News)

In his statement Judge William Pauley III of New York wrote, “There is no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks.” (Via United States District Court Southern District Of New York

That lawsuit was brought by the ACLU, who on Thursday appealed the ruling — adding, “We categorically reject the notion that the threat of terrorism requires citizens of democratic countries to surrender the freedoms that make democracies worth defending."

So one ruling going one way, another going the exact opposite — what does that mean for the case? As CNN reports, possibly a date in the highest court in the land.

They write, “split decisions likely set the stage for legal wrangling over the course of the coming year that could ultimately result in a Supreme Court case.”

Besides the appeal, the Obama Administration also made another move to secure the NSA program on Friday — winning approval from the FISA, or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to continue the program. (Via The Huffington Post

The revelation of the NSA’s spying program was, of course, leaked by former security contractor Edward Snowden — who, himself, has made headlines in recent days. (Via ITN)

On Wednesday both The New York Times and The Guardian ran editorials urging the Obama Administration to offer Snowden clemency as a whistleblower. (Via Yahoo!)