A popular Republican lawmaker is supporting a class action lawsuit against the government over surveillance programs that have collected information and phone records of millions of American citizens.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., formally announced his intention to support and promote the effort during an event Thursday on Capitol Hill. Eighty-six other groups have also signed on, including advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Web companies Reddit and TechStars.
A handful of other lawmakers also spoke out against the National Security Agency’s monitoring programs during Thursday’s event.
Paul had previously declared his intention to sue during appearances on Fox News Channel and CNN over the past week and has been a vocal critic of the government’s domestic intelligence tactics since The Washington Post and The Guardian first disclosed the story last week. Paul said he is strongly opposed to the indiscriminate use of individual warrants to collect records on all of the country’s citizens.
“Looking at everyone’s phone records, I think, really goes against what we stand for as a free people,” Paul said on Fox News Channel. “If we get ten million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”
He said that the government could subpoena records for individuals, but that the use of a single warrant to justify collecting records on 300 million individuals was unconstitutional.
His lawsuit follows legal actions taken by several independent groups against the NSA, including the American Civil Liberties Union, and the family of a deceased Navy cryptologist. It also follows other actions Paul has taken in recent days, including filing a bill that prevents the NSA from collecting phone records and using his SuperPAC to garner support for the lawsuit.