Kentucky Republican senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Rand Paul is suing the Obama administration. Paul filed a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday on behalf of the American people over National Security Agency surveillance programs.
"I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment," Paul said in a statement. "The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants. I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win.”
The suit also names National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and NSA Director Keith Alexander.
The programs in question came to light in the wake of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. Those programs are carried out under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to collect information from telecommunication companies about all phone calls, including date, time, duration of call and all numbers party to a call.
Paul is teaming up with former attorney general from Virginia Ken Cuccinelli, who will be lead counsel for the suit. Matt Kibbe, from the tea party-aligned group Freedom Works, has also joined the team.
Kibbe has said, “If you use a phone, you should care about this case.”
Last year, two judges in separate lawsuits differed over the program’s constitutionality. One upheld the program, while the other said it was likely unconstitutional.
What distinguishes Paul’s lawsuit from those of last year is the class-action nature of the suit.
Steve Vladeck, a law professor at American University, described the difference, pointing out that Paul “is not just suing on his own behalf, but on behalf all people, known and unknown, who are similarly situated. Ostensibly, he could be suing on behalf of all Americans, or all Americans hypothetically affected by these court orders.”
“The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,” Paul said.
Paul has developed a website — DefendTheFourth.com — where concerned citizens can join the class-action suit by entering their names and email addresses. Such a list of interested parties may come in handy during his 2016 presidential bid.