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For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency’s vast dragnet of all Americans’ telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional.

In a scathing 68-page opinion peppered with exclamations of incredulity, United States District Judge Richard Leon, of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, found that the seven-year-old phone-data collection program — which was established under the Patriot Act and has been repeatedly reauthorized by a secret intelligence court — “almost certainly” violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches.

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