National Security Agency critics and privacy advocates are practically dancing their way across social media, spreading the news that U.S. District Court Just Richard Leon has declared the NSA's mass phone metadata record collections are likely Fourth Amendment violations. (Seriously, they're stopping just short of throwing up Vine clips of themselves making out with a PDF of the ruling).
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, whom the NSA and 60 Minutes dismissed last night as a cheating, weirdo dropout, gave a response to Glenn Greenwald, who passed the statement along to The New York Times to include in their reporting:
"I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.'s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts," Mr. Snowden said. "Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans' rights. It is the first of many."
Having had the chance to look a little more closely at the ruling, it's abundantly clear that Judge Leon is attempting to force the Supreme Court to review the important Smith v. Maryland decision from 1979, the precedent that has been invoked to legally justify so much of this mass data collection. Given the significant changes in communications and technology, the judge no longer believes the decision is valid:
"[T]he question in this case can more properly be styled as follows: When do present-day circumstances — the evolutions in the government's surveillance capabilities, citizens' phone habits and the relation between the NSA and telecom companies — become so thoroughly unlike those considered by the Supreme Court that 34 years that to a precedent like Smith simply does not apply?"
The judge thinks the time is now. It's hard to imagine the Supreme Court not taking this case on.