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Supreme Court declines early look at NSA surveillance case

Visitors to the Supreme Court are pictured in the rain in Washington, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Visitors to the Supreme Court are pictured in the rain in Washington, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a long-shot request for a ruling on whether the U.S. government's gathering of Americans' phone records is unlawful.

The justices' refusal to intervene means the case will go forward in the appeals court, as scheduled.

Plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange had said the issue was so important the high court should not wait for a Washington federal appeals court to rule in the case concerning the National Security Agency.

The high court rarely hears an appeal before an appeals court has ruled.

The Supreme Court will likely be asked to hear the case after the appeals court issues its ruling.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the massive phone record collection to U.S. and British media in June 2013. Documents provided by Snowden showed a U.S. surveillance court had secretly approved the collection of millions of raw daily phone records in America, such as the length of calls and the numbers dialed.

Klayman is a conservative lawyer and Strange is the father of a U.S. cryptologist technician killed in Afghanistan in 2011. They won the case in U.S. District Court in Washington in December. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the program was likely unlawful, and the government appealed.

The case is Klayman v. Obama, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-931.

(Editing by Howard Goller and Bernadette Baum)

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