(Washington Post) — A U.S. appeals court Tuesday temporarily blocked the ruling of a federal judge who this week called the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records almost certainly unconstitutional, just weeks before the program’s scheduled phase-out.
The order by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit came one day after U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of the District granted a request for an injunction and barred the NSA from collecting telephone data related to a California lawyer, J.J. Little, and his law firm.
Attorneys for the Justice Department warned that it would take weeks for the NSA to make the necessary technical changes to comply with Leon’s order. The inability to hasten those technical changes, the department said, could force the agency to shut down the entire program as it approaches a Nov. 29 deadline to transition to a new system in which data is held by private telephone companies.