Following the filing of motions for a preliminary injunction against the National Security Agency as well as government and corporate defendants named in a class action suit, a federal judge on Monday rejected the Justice Department’s request for a delay of the proceedings, according to a U.S. Justice Department attorney.
Just recently John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, found himself confronting reports that the U.S. spies had eavesdropped on the cell phone calls of world leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Merkel’s case, there are allegations that her office telephone was also “bugged” by U.S. spies and that the NSA collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in European countries, according to an Examiner news story.
According to former Justice Department attorney, now public-interest lawyer, Larry Klayman, he and other plaintiffs have filed motions for a “preliminary injunction” against the NSA and other defendants in Klayman’s class action lawsuits (13-cv-881, 13-cv-851) concerning the agency’s growing spy scandal.
As a result, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the Obama Justice Department’s request to delay the process and ordered the NSA to respond to the motions by Nov. 11, 2013, with “plaintiffs being accorded an opportunity to reply on November 14.”
Judge Leon then notified plaintiffs and defendants that he will hear oral arguments on November 18 and then deliver a ruling on the motions to order an end to the NSA’s controversial PRISM programs, which allegedly accessed and violated the U.S. Constitution by violating the private communications of millions of American citizens.
“History has taught us that pervasive government surveillance has a profoundly adverse effect on the exercise of free speech – a universal right enshrined both in the Constitution and in international human rights law,” said an ACLU attorney, Steven Watt, said in a press statement.
“By failing to tell defendants that they had been surveilled by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act, the government effectively shielded its warrantless wiretapping program from judicial review. We hope this reported policy reversal will change that,” said Patrick Toomey, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project.
“The Justice Department told the Supreme Court that review of the surveillance law would be possible, but then made it impossible by keeping who was spied on a secret, even from defendants who had a legal right to know. This lawsuit aims to reveal how the government justified keeping defendants in the dark about evidence based on NSA surveillance, and what the policy is today,” Toomey stated.
When issuing his ruling, Judge Leon warned the Obama Justice Department and its de facto NSA client that he expects this case to move forward quickly given its national importance, according to Klayman.
The federal judge warned the government’s legal team not to seek delay, telling them that “we work 24/7 around this courthouse. I don’t want to hear anything about vacations, weddings, days off. Forget about it. This is a case at the pinnacle of public national interest, pinnacle. All hands 24/7. No excuses. You got a team of lawyers. Mr. Klayman is alone apparently. You have litigated cases in this courthouse when it is matters of this consequence and enormity.