US & World

Judge: NSA bulk collection of phone records violates Constitution ban on unreasonable searches

File: A computer workstation bears the National Security Agency (NSA) logo inside the Threat Operations Center inside the Washington suburb of Fort Meade, Maryland, intelligence gathering operation Jan. 25, 2006.
File: A computer workstation bears the National Security Agency (NSA) logo inside the Threat Operations Center inside the Washington suburb of Fort Meade, Maryland, intelligence gathering operation Jan. 25, 2006.
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge says the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches. The judge put his decision on hold pending a nearly certain government appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, concluding they were likely to prevail in their constitutional challenge. Leon ruled Monday that the two men are likely to be able to show that their privacy interests outweigh the government's interest in collecting the data. Leon says that means that massive collection program is an unreasonable search under the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

The collection program was disclosed by former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden, provoking a heated debate over civil liberties.