"Defending the Constitution is expensive!"

That's how Ladar Levison closes out his newly launched crowdfunding pitch. The Lavabit founder — whose encrypted e-mail service was allegedly used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden — has raised more than $24,000 in the last two days, putting him at more than halfway to his goal of $40,000.

Levison shut down his company in August in the face of pressure from the U.S. government. He couldn't say why, leading some to suspect that the Obama administration was targeting Lavabit with a secret court order for information on Snowden's activities.

Now Levison is asking the Internet to pay for his legal appeal — and it's working. Most of his donations so far have come in small denominations of $100 or less, though at least one generous donor poured $1,000 into Levison's defense fund.