Larry Klayman finally can put one in the win column.
After years of unsuccessfully mounting various legal challenges to the federal government — and, in one case, suing his own mother — the conservative legal activist scored what has the potential to be a major legal victory over National Security Agency surveillance.
And in doing so, he beat to the punch a slew of established civil liberties groups that have been mounting challenges to the NSA for years.
On Monday, U.S. Dictrict Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA program that collects information, or “metadata,” on telephone calls in the United States is likely unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, in a case that was brought by Klayman. Leon issued a stay, giving the government time for an appeal.
But for Klayman, this is the Super Bowl.
“Someone asked me, ‘What are you going to do now, Larry?'” Klayman said in an interview. “I’m going to Disney World!
“Well, not really.”
Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch, has been behind lawsuits involving the most bizarre circumstances and defendants. Judicial Watch’s website has 890 pages of legal filings.
He is a “birther” who sued to have Barack Obama’s name removed from the ballot in Florida on the grounds that he’s not a natural born citizen. (He lost.)
He has written three books, two of which contain the word “Whores” in the title.
His lawsuit spree started in 1994, when his group sued then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in a case that was quickly thrown out. But he continued to be a thorn in the Clinton Administration’s side, filing at least 18 lawsuits on everything from “Filegate” — the controversy over FBI background files on former White House staffers — to the Monica Lewinsky affair. When Newsweek reported in 1998 that he had sued his mother, he accused the Clinton administration of giving the magazine the tip.
He claims that a character from “The West Wing” — a lawyer named Harry Claypool — is based on him. But his lawsuits have continued long after that show went off the air, including the Florida ballot lawsuit which he still maintains he should have won.
“It is a fraud,” Klayman said of Obama’s released longform birth certificate. “He is a certified liar.”
But Klayman’s focus now is on what he calls the “most important fight” he’s ever had. In an interview with Business Insider, Klayman advocated “nonviolent civil disobedience” against the Obama administration and the NSA. He said that “if Gandhi could do it,” the American people could against Obama.
In the interview, Klayman repeatedly referred to Obama as a Muslim.
He also warned that if King George III had the NSA’s powers during the American Revolution, “the Founding Fathers would have been detained and executed before they got to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.”
“We have never seen such a massive violation of civil rights in our nation’s history,” Klayman said. “We live in a police state. We live in a Gulag state. This is what we saw in the former Soviet Union, and it’s what we see in China today.”
That might sound crazy, but for once, Klayman found a judge who largely agreed with him on merits of this case. Leon wrote in a scathing, strongly worded ruling that charged the NSA’s phone surveillance program is an “arbitrary invasion” and “almost Orwellian.” Leon also wrote that “the author of our constitution, James Madison … would be aghast” at the program.
Klayman, who expects the case to eventually be argued before the Supreme Court, called Leon a “hero.”
“Most judges are just ‘yes men’ who rubber stamp the federal government’s agenda,” he said. “But I’m old enough to know that we’ve got a fight ahead.”
If the case reaches the Supreme Court, Klayman may be in a position to argue it personally. Better get your popcorn.
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