US files appeal to judge's ruling barring NSA from collecting plaintiff's phone records

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s opinion that says the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data on hundreds of millions of Americans is likely unconstitutional.

The appeal filed Tuesday comes after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington ordered the NSA on Monday to stop collecting metadata from any phone calls from a Verizon Business Network Services landline belonging to plaintiff J.J. Little and his law firm. The judge’s prohibition didn’t extend to other Verizon customers.

The order stems from a 2013 challenge the USA Patriot Act, a law set to expire Nov. 29. Leon previously said the NSA’s bulk collection program is likely unconstitutional, but an appeals court later ruled the original plaintiffs in the case couldn’t prove their cellphone records had been collected.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday placed a temporary hold on Leon’s ruling while they consider arguments.