A federal judged ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic wiretapping program is illegal and ordered an immediate halt to it.
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly taping conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.
The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.
The ACLU said the state-secrets argument was irrelevant because the Bush administration already had publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to rule.
Taylor was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Carter, so she probably will be portrayed as one of those "liberal activist" judges. In any event, her ruling is sure to be appealed.