Judge Doubts NSA Program Is Constitutional-But Upholds It Anyway

Brendan Sasso | Nextgov.com | June 4, 2014

A federal judge in Idaho upheld the NSA's controversial phone surveillance program Tuesday. But Judge B. Lynn Winmill seemed to invite the Supreme Court to overturn his decision. He suggested that the program, which collects data on millions of U.S. phone calls, likely violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.

Winmill upheld the program because he concluded that his hands were tied by current Supreme Court precedent. He pointed to the Supreme Court's 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland, which held that people don't expect privacy in the phone numbers they dial.

The controversial NSA program, which was revealed by Edward Snowden last year, collects "metadata" such as phone numbers, call times, and call durations, but not the contents of any conversations...