Senator Rand Paul sued the Obama administration Wednesday over the NSA’s mass collection of millions of Americans’ phone records.
Rand Paul , a possible Republican presidential candidate, said he and the conservative activist group FreedomWorks filed the suit for themselves and on behalf of “everyone in America that has a phone”.
The lawsuit argues that the bulk collection program that’s been in existence since 2006 violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches. It calls for an end to the program, which was revealed by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
The Obama administration maintains that the program, begun under President George W. Bush, is legal. Courts have largely sided with the government.
President Barack Obama has called for reforms to the program in an effort to regain public trust. Others, like Rand Paul, have called for the end of this kind of surveillance.
Rand Paul dodged a question about his presidential ambitions during a news conference Wednesday. But his lawsuit is the latest effort to propel the debate over the once-secret surveillance program into the 2016 presidential campaign.
The surveillance debate has exposed intra-party tensions for Republicans. The party split on this issue between its leadership, which backs the program on security grounds, and libertarian-minded members who are more wary of government involvement in Americans’ private lives.
The Republican National Committee last month approved a resolution to end the surveillance programs. While some Republicans played down its significance, the nonbinding vote was seen as a nod to Republicans like Rand Paul.
The White House and Justice Department did not comment on the lawsuit specifically, but said they believe the bulk collection of phone records is legal.
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