Politico [dot] com is reporting
a federal appeals court Thu., May 7, ruled the National Security Agency program to collect information on billions of telephone calls made or received is illegal. A three-judge panel from the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York unanimously ruled a law Congress passed permitting the collection of information relevant to terrorism investigations does not authorize the so-called "bulk collection" of phone records on the scale of the NSA program. The judges did not address whether the program violated the Constitution. The 2nd Circuit, which acted in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, is the first appeals court to rule on the legality of the telephone metadata program. The program was first discovered in leaks from Edward Snowden in 2013. In a 97-page ruling, the court held that a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, known as Section 215, cannot be interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records. Section 215, and the Patriot Act run out June 1, and Congress is currently debating renewal or changes. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has advocating for renewing the program, while other senators want to curtail some NSA programs, The New York Times reports
. Previously, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), the court that who hears arguments only from the government, interpreted Section 215 to allow the government wide latitude in the searches. Now, Congress, and the President, are forced to act on the issue.