Amicus CNSS Argues NSA Metadata Program Violates Section 215

4 November 2014

On November, 4, 2014, the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in one of three cases challenging the legality of the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata.  In the D.C. case, Klayman v. Obama, the plaintiff and amici EFF and ACLU argued that the bulk collection violates the Fourth Amendment.  CNSS filed an amicus brief arguing that the program was never authorized by Congress and violates section 215.  CNSS represented by Paul Smith of Jenner and Block, argued that Congress never intended to give the NSA the authority to continuously collect the telephone records of all Americans.  Section 215 on its face is limited to the FBI, not the NSA, and is limited to records relevant to investigations, which by definition must be something less than all records.  A similar challenge is pending before the Ninth Circuit, Smith v. Obama, and CNSS also filed an amicus brief in that case arguing that the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata collection wasn’t authorized by Congress.  The third civil pending case, ACLU v. Clapper was argued before the Second Circuit in September 2014 and in that case, plaintiff ACLU challenged the program as a violation of both the statute and the Constitution. 

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