In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act known as Section 215 cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records.
The ruling was certain to increase the tension that has been building in Congress as the provision of the act that has been cited to justify the bulk data collection program nears expiration. It will expire in June unless lawmakers pass a bill to extend it.
Thursday’s ruling did not come with any injunction ordering the program to cease, and it is not clear that anything else will happen in the judicial system before Congress has to make a decision about the expiring law.
It is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the program.
The conventional wisdom is that this puts significant pressure on Congress to reform or stop altogether these metadata surveillance programs.
I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
Congress will do nothing.
The case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, and it will find in favor of the US government.
The programs will continue.
President Obama will be blamed, of course, but it's the legislative and judicial branches that will refuse to stop bulk collection of metadata. Please keep that in mind.