The Justice Department filed a motion Wednesday that would prevent plaintiffs in one of the recent federal cases involving the National Security Agency from learning more about its surveillance activities.
“Plaintiffs have made clear their intentions to seek discovery of this kind of still-classified information, concerning targets and subjects, participating providers, and other operational details of the challenged NSA intelligence programs,” the motion stated.
Conservative activist Larry Klayman is the plaintiff in two lawsuits brought against the Obama administration. He charges that the NSA’s program violates the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution.
On Friday, the Justice Department filed an appeal in the suits involving Klayman, seeking to overturn a federal judge’s December ruling that the NSA’s surveillance program is likely unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued the ruling on Dec. 16 and called the NSA’s operations “almost Orwellian,” comparing the program to George Orwell’s book 1984. In the case, Leon ordered the government to stop collecting data from two plaintiffs, including Klayman.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department issued a stay in proceedings pending their appeal.
The lawsuit was inspired by revelations about the NSA’s activities domestically and abroad, which have been detailed in documents former government contractor Edward Snowden has leaked since June.
Despite Leon’s ruling, New York District Court Judge William Pauley ruled in the last week of December that the NSA’s program is legal.
President Obama and Vice President Biden, meanwhile, will meet with members of Congress at the White House Thursday to discuss an internal review of the nation’s surveillance program. Obama plans to announce results from that review during the State of the Union Jan. 28.