A U.S. District Court judge in New York rejected an ACLU lawsuit against the National Security Agency on Friday, saying that the widespread collection of meta data on American phone calls is lawful. The ruling, by Judge William H. Pauley III, disagrees with other courts’ rulings, and is therefore likely to help propel the NSA question to the Supreme Court.
In his ruling, Pauley cited the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, writing, ““The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.”
Pauley’s court house is a few blocks from Ground Zero.
Additionally, Pauley ruled that since phone records are held by a third party — the phone companies — they are not protected under the 4th Amendment, which protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
“Pauley’s opinion comes 11 days after a federal judge [Richard J. Leon] in Washington ruled that the NSA’s collection of bulk telephony metadata is based on ‘almost-Orwellian technology,’” The Washington Post reports.
“The main dispute between Judge Pauley and Judge Leon was over how to interpret a 1979 Supreme Court decision, Smith v. Maryland, in which the court said a robbery suspect had no reasonable expectation that his right to privacy extended to the numbers dialed from his phone,” The New York Times reports.
Earlier this month in Washington, an oversight panel met with President Barack Obama to discuss suggested changes to the NSA’s jurisdiction. (RELATED: NSA changes recommended by Obama’s review group could politicize spy agency)