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DOJ appeals district court ruling against NSA phone surveillance program

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Friday filed an appeal to a federal district court ruling [opinion] that held that the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] program of collecting phone call data is likely unconstitutional [JURIST report]. In December Judge Richard Leon granted in part the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, but he stayed his order pending appeal. The DOJ has asked the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] to reconsider the lower court opinion.

The revelations surrounding NSA surveillance programs [JURIST backgrounder] have sparked worldwide debate and controversy. In September the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court released [JURIST report] a previously classified opinion [text, PDF] explaining why a NSA program to keep records of Americans' phone calls is constitutional. Also in September the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] urged the Obama administration [JURIST report] to curb the FBI's surveillance powers. In August the Council of Europe [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the UK reaction to the exposure of the US surveillance program. Lawmakers have also called for a criminal investigation into the activities of Edward Snowden, who came forward in early June as the whistleblower in the NSA surveillance scandal [JURIST podcast]. JURIST Guest Columnist Christina Wells argues that the broad provisions of the Espionage Act [text], under which Snowden is charged, raise significant First Amendment concerns [JURIST op-ed].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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