A federal judge on Thursday declared the governments warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor also ordered an immediate halt to the surveillance by the National Security Agency, the Associated Press and other media reported.
Taylor, a judge in Detroit, is the first to shoot down the governments efforts to listen in on United States citizens private conversations. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who fear many of their overseas contacts were the programs likely targets, according to the AP.
In her 43-page opinion, Diggs said the NSA was violating rights to free speech and privacy. The government had argued the program was within President Bushs authority but that proving so would reveal state secrets.
A similar case, brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is pending in federal court in California. That case accuses AT&T Inc. of allowing the government to collect consumer phone records without a warrant.