Candidates running for president in 2016 released divided statements following an appeals court ruling that found the National Security Agency's mass collection of U.S. phone records is illegal.
The reaction Thursday fell into three camps: those who called for Congress to pass a reform bill, those who called for the Supreme Court to finish the job, and those who remain supportive of the program.
"To celebrate today's ruling, we've lowered the cost of the NSA spy blocker in our campaign store," Paul tweeted, referencing the simple device that covers up a computer's webcam when not in use.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump keeping Comey as FBI head: report Sessions: No plan to recuse from DOJ Trump probes Gates: Trump has 'serious policy-making side' MORE did not speak about the decision directly but said Congress should pass the USA Freedom Act, a reform bill that would effectively end the program, by requiring that phone records be stored with telephone companies.
She said on Twitter that it would be "a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security & civil liberties."
On Thursday morning, The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the surveillance program "exceeds the scope" of what Congress authorized, arguing the government's interpretation represented a huge shift in the U.S. approach to fighting terrorism.
Three of the four senators who are running for president released laudatory statements. Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Memo: Searching for firm footing as Trump Era begins Overnight Energy: Senate panel clears Tillerson for State Senate panel votes to confirm Tillerson MORE (R-Fla.) continued to support the spy program and called for its reauthorization.
"The solution is not to get rid of a program at a time when we know that the risk of homegrown violent extremism is the highest it's ever been," Rubio said on the Senate floor.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump's America: Businessmen in, bureaucrats out When Trump says 'Make America Great Again,' he means it Booker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals MORE (R-Texas) said the ruling confirmed what the public already knew. He also called for the Senate to pass the reform bill.
"The USA FREEDOM Act ends the NSA’s unfettered data collection program once and for all, while at the same time preserving the government's ability to obtain information to track down terrorists when it has sufficient justification and support for doing so," Cruz said in a statement.
The three GOP candidates in the Senate have been divided on the issue since last year. Paul has previously opposed the Senate's surveillance reform bill because it would reauthorize parts of the Patriot Act. Rubio has opposed the bill for different reasons, saying the program is needed to fight terrorism.
As Congress approaches the June 1 deadline to reauthorize portions of the Patriot Act, the House is slated to take up reform next week. It is unclear how the Senate will proceed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Cabinet picks boost 2018 Dems Overnight Finance: Trump takes US out of Pacific trade deal | WH says Trump has left his businesses | Lobbyists expect boom times MORE (R-Ky.) has introduced a clean reauthorization bill, but others have called for a vote on broader reform.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Democrats vie for chance to take on Trump as California governor Overnight Finance: Trump takes US out of Pacific trade deal | WH says Trump has left his businesses | Lobbyists expect boom times MORE (I-Vt.), who is mounting a long-shot bid against Clinton, said the government can protect the public without all-encompassing surveillance powers.
“We can do that without living in an Orwellian world where the government and private corporations know every telephone call that we make, every website we visit, every place we go," he said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a likely GOP candidate, did not immediately offer a statement. But he has supported the program in the past.