U.S. government lawyers are asking an appeals court in Washington to overturn a federal judge's ruling that threatens the National Security Agency's practice of collecting every Americans' telephone records every day.

Defense Bill

The U.S. Justice Department filed its notice of appeal Friday against last month's District Court ruling that the NSA phone records program was likely unconstitutional. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

The Justice Department filed its notice of appeal Friday. Meanwhile, Larry Klayman, the opposing lawyer who spearheaded the case against the NSA said he will ask the appeals court to refer the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the NSA phone records program was likely unconstitutional, so the government's appeal was expected.

In a separate case, a district judge in New York last month upheld the NSA program as lawful. The American Civil Liberties Union, which lost that case, said this week it will appeal the ruling.