The New York and American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Obama administration, challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency phone surveillance program.
“The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act,” Jameel Jaffer, ACLU Deputy Legal Director, said, “and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy."
The suit states that the program violates the First and Fourth amendments, and is the first legal opposition to the government’s action. It requests that a federal judge declare the entire program unlawful, halt it and purge all records relating to the program.
"This dragnet program,” Jaffer said, “is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens.”
A Verizon customer itself, the ACLU insisted that the collection of its phone records compromised its ability to function and communicate freely. They argued that it could also damage the group’s future advocacy work.
The Obama administration has adamantly defended its actions, arguing that it went forward with the programs with the approval of Congress and therefore followed the law.
Similar lawsuits against government spying were filed in December 2012 and March 2013 by other civil rights groups, but had limited success in court.