Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday filed a class action lawsuit against President Barack Obama and other administration officials for the National Security Agency (NSA) program that collected millions of Americans’ phone and other records. FreedomWorks, a grassroots Tea Party-aligned conservative organization, is a co-plaintiff with Sen. Paul in the class action suit.
“On behalf of myself, FreedomWorks, and everyone else in America who has a phone, I’m filing suit against the President of the United States in defense of the Fourth Amendment,” Paul said at a press conference outside the U.S. District Court near the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning. “We will ask the question in court whether a single warrant could apply to the records of every American phone user all of the time without limits and without individualization.”
The lawsuit’s defendants include President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA director Keith Alexander, and FBI director James Comey.
FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said at the press conference that he thinks “this is probably one of the most important things that my organization has ever participated in.” FreedomWorks will help organize grassroots-level activists to get involved in the suit, he said. “FreedomWorks is participating in this class action on behalf of our staff, on behalf of our six million plus members, and frankly on behalf of anybody who has made a phone call since 2006,” Kibbe added. Kibbe’s organization launched a website for Americans to get involved in the suit, too.
Also present at Wednesday’s press conference was former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who, since losing a gubernatorial bid to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, has signed up to help Paul and FreedomWorks with as legal counsel on this lawsuit.
Cuccinelli said the class action suit he filed on behalf of his clients Paul and Kibbe on Wednesday is aimed at trying to “vindicate the Fourth Amendment rights of every American who uses a phone.”
“If you don’t use a phone and haven’t in the last five years, don’t worry about this case; it doesn’t affect you,” Cuccinelli said at the presser. “If you have used a phone in the last five years, this case is about protecting your rights against your own government and an invasion of your privacy. We hope that when this path is all done and we’re at the end of it, we will have pushed the federal government back across the line of trampling the Constitution yet again.”
Cuccinelli said the relief the plaintiffs are seeking from the government is “purely injunctive,” meaning that the “court is going to order these folks to stop doing what they’re doing: taking phone records, keeping them and searching them.”
“We expect that if you look at several levels of court, this will be a several years-long process,” he added. The federal government has to answer to this lawsuit’s filing in two months’ time, Cuccinelli said, adding that he thinks “that will be the next round.”
When asked by Breitbart News how confident he was that he, Paul, and Kibbe will win this lawsuit, Cuccinelli responded that he and the others “come here optimistic.”
“This has gone both ways in other courts,” he said. “This has not gone very far in the courts, these questions. We will be the first — I expect, the first — class certified [lawsuit] to carry forward this protection of the Fourth Amendment on behalf of virtually all Americans. I am optimistic that when this is all said and done, however it plays it out in the lower courts, that when the Supreme Court ultimately rules on these questions that Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights will be vindicated and we will prevail.”
Other class action suits have been filed against the NSA but have not received class certification yet.
Paul said that in addition to this lawsuit, which he is filing as a U.S. Citizen and not as a lawmaker, he will be continuing legislative activities against the NSA’s snooping program. “I am pursuing reforms of the NSA,” Paul said. “I have pursued a reform also of the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] court that would allow an appeal from the secret court into the Supreme Court.”