U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon today issued a decision, ruling that the NSA’s metadata collection program is likely unconstitutional.   

Questioning the constitutionality of the collection program, Judge Leon wrote: “The Government, in its understandable zeal to protect our homeland, has crafted a counterterrorism program with respect to telephony metadata that strikes the balance based in large part on a thirty-four year old Supreme Court precedent, the relevance of which has been eclipsed by technology advances and a cell phone-centric lifestyle heretofore inconceivable.”

He also stated: “The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”

Leon granted “an injunction and enter[ed] an order that (1) bars the government from collection, as part of the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program, any telephony metadata associated with their personal Verizon accounts and (2) requires the Government to destroy any such metadata in its possession that was collected through the bulk collection program.”

Leon will stay his order pending an appeal. “In doing so, I hereby give the Government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld, this order will go into effect forthwith.”

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: “Judge Leon’s decision further highlights the need to pass the USA FREEDOM Act. The slow trickle of revelations that began in June about NSA spying have exposed the most intrusive and secretive programs in American history. From the onset, I have been extremely critical of the government’s dragnet collection of Americans’ data.  I am encouraged by the district court’s ruling. It will add to the growing momentum behind the USA FREEDOM Act, which has garnered support from a large, diverse bloc of my colleagues and the business community. The Executive Branch should join Congress to institute meaningful reform.”

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the USA FREEDOM Act on October 29. This legislation would restore Americans’ privacy rights by reining in the dragnet collection of data by the NSA and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.

The USA FREEDOM Act currently has 115 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 in the Senate. It also has the support of tech giants AOL, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Mozilla and others.