Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled earlier this week that the NSA telephone surveillance was almost certainly unconstitutional.
It’s the first legal setback for the Obama Administration, which has so far managed to keep most of the NSA’s misdeeds confined to secret closed-door FISA courts and classified rulings, but the ruling could have impact well beyond the courtroom, and the single surveillance program.
That’s because President Obama has been trying to push for time to unveil some sort of “reform” package that, by all indications, will do materially nothing to the programs themselves. The hope from the administration is that it will be enough to quiet civil liberties campaigners.
The ruling adds more emphasis to the many problems with the NSA programs in general, and as Obama seeks to push the announcement back until at least January, he’s going to be hearing growing calls to curb the program in a real way.
It’s also going to put more pressure on Congress to offer reforms of its own, something that so far has been stalled in committee.