Rand Paul Sues the NSA, Raises PAC Money (Updated)
Updated 1:52 p.m. Jan. 6 | Sen. Rand Paul announced Friday night his intent to lead a class-action lawsuit seeking to stop some controversial National Security Agency programs. And he hopes to raise some money for the effort along the way.
The intent is to get “hundreds of thousands of Americans” to sign on to a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of having a single warrant apply to everyone’s phone records, the Kentucky Republican said in making the announcement on Fox News.
“We think everybody in America who has a cellphone would be eligible for this class-action suit,” Paul said. “If any of your viewers have a cellphone, they just have to go to my Facebook tonight and they can sign up to be part of the lawsuit. We want to overwhelm the government.”
Paul appears to be asking for both additional complainants for the lawsuit and financial support for the effort, with the same pitch appearing on RandPaul2016.com and the RAND PAC website. That group is a leadership PAC. A separate RAND PAC 2016 registered as a super PAC in May 2013, but that group has since disbanded and is not affiliated with the Paul effort.
“I’ve asked Internet providers and phone companies to join me in a class-action lawsuit to STOP Barack Obama’s NSA from snooping on the American people,” the announcement on both sites said. “So please sign below and join my class-action lawsuit and help stop the government’s outrageous spying program on the American people.”
Both pitches also say: “After you sign up, please make a generous donation to help rally up to ten million Americans to support my lawsuit to stop Big Brother from infringing on our Fourth Amendment freedoms.”
Appearing on Fox News, Paul said that Ken Cuccinelli, the outgoing Virginia attorney general and 2013 GOP gubernatorial nominee, would serve as part of the legal team for the effort. Paul is arguing that several NSA programs run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as an established right to privacy.
Paul also emphasized that supporters could join the class action lawsuit through his non-governmental Facebook page, rather than through the office.
Paul has previously introduced legislation to curtail the NSA’s access to metadata associated with telecommunications and to allow for additional challenges to the decisions made by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That court reauthorized the bulk collection of phone records Friday, according to a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“It is the administration’s view, consistent with the recent holdings of the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and Southern District of California, as well as the findings of 15 judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 separate occasions over the past seven years, that the telephony metadata collection program is lawful,” ODNI Director of Public Affairs Shawn Turner said. “The Department of Justice has filed an appeal of the lone contrary decision issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.”