Appeals Court Blocks Judge’s Order to Halt NSA Surveillance

Justice Dept: Not Spying on One Person Means Whole Program Goes

Yesterday, US District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered an end to NSA surveillance of Americans’ domestic phone records, saying the program was almost certainly unconstitutional and has to halt. He in particular ordered a half to the spying on one specific complainant, which the Justice Department argues would require scrapping the whole program.

This isn’t the first time a judge has panned the NSA program, and once again nothing will come of it, as an Appeals Court today announced that they are going to allow the NSA to keep the system in place through November 29, when it shifts to a nominally different format which itself wasn’t a subject of the ruling.

In both cases, the surveillance will be materially the same, though after November 29 the NSA will be depending on American phone companies collecting all of their customers’ data and sharing it with them, which was Congress’ mostly irrelevant “reform” of the scheme.

Leon conceded yesterday that his ruling wouldn’t impact the post-29th program, but said he believed it was important that the courts offer at least some decisive ruling on the old system. Ultimately, however, being grossly unconstitutional didn’t stop the program before, and probably won’t stop it going forward.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.