WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the National Security Agency over alleged spying on American citizens have filed for class certification.
The request for class action certification was made to Judge Richard J. Leon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday by former federal prosecutor Larry Klayman, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit as well as the plaintiffs' attorney.
Klayman, who is the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, brought the action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the defendants to cease needlessly and illegally collecting the phone record and Internet record metadata and content of all U.S. citizens, according to the motion for class certification and memorandum in support
The plaintiffs moved for a nationwide class of similarly situated persons who are defined as "American citizens who are or have been subscribers, users, and/or consumers of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, Sprint, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, PalTalk and other certain telecommunications and Internet service providers and have had their telephone calls, Internet activities, e-mails and/or any other communications made or received through said certain telecommunications and Internet service providers, collected, recorded and/or listened to by or on behalf of Defendants," according to the motion.
President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Himpton Holder Jr., NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Roger Vinson National Intelligence Director James Clapper, CIA Director John O. Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, the U.S. Department of Justice and CIA were also named as defendants in the suit.
Leon ruled on Dec. 16 in a previous federal lawsuit against NSA for alleged spying on Americans that the NSA and other government defendants had violated the constitutional rights of millions of Americans by collecting and accessing their telephonic metadata.
"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval," the ruling states. "Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment."
Leon stated that he had little doubt the authors of the Constitution who cautioned to beware "the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power" would be aghast.
Klayman's new class action suit expands on the allegations of constitutional violations to include the NSA's collection of Internet metadata, social media and its spying on overseas phone calls under its PRISM program.
"Such is the damage to free speech rights that have been wreaked on the American people," Klayman stated.
This class action suit is the first one filed and the first to ask for class action certification. A similar lawsuit filed by Sen. Rand Paul is limited to only telephonic metadata.
Klayman and the other plaintiffs have also asked the Supreme Court to immediately review Leon's prior ruling.
"One day that our constitutional rights are violated is one day too much," Klayman stated in a press release. "When even a former president is too scared to use the phone or Internet, then it's clear that we are living in a police state. This must be ended immediately."
Former President Jimmy Carter recently stated that he no longer used the telephone or the Internet and does any important correspondence through the mail.
"I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored," Carter said on a recent episode of NBS's Meet the Press. "And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it, because I believe if I sent an email, it will be monitored."
Alexander responded Tuesday on Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier, that the NSA was not monitoring Carter and that he could "go back to writing emails."
Klayman's lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23. The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Charles and Mary Ann Strange of Philadelphia; Michael Ferrari of Santa Clara, Calif.; and Matt Garrison of Long Beach, Calif.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest in an amount in excess of $20 billion. Klayman is representing himself and the rest of the class.
Bryan Scott Dearinger of the U.S. Department of Justice is representing the defendants.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia case number: 1:14-cv-00092
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.