University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name In re Orders Issued by This Court Interpreting Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act [FISA Docket Misc. 13-02] NS-DC-0020
Docket / Court Misc. 13-02 ( FISC )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Telephony Metadata
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA Matters, see our special collection.

On January 17, 2014, the Director of National Intelligence authorized the declassification and public ... read more >
For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA Matters, see our special collection.

On January 17, 2014, the Director of National Intelligence authorized the declassification and public release of numerous orders approving the National Security Agency's ("NSA") so-called "Bulk Telephony Metadata Program" under Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ("FISA"), commonly referred to as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Press release available here.

Under the program, the NSA has collected records from large telecommunication companies about, apparently, virtually all domestic telephone calls. These records, termed "telephony metadata," include the phone numbers placed and received; the date, time and duration of calls; some location identifiers; and calling card numbers. The records, however, allegedly do not include the parties' names, addresses or financial information or the call's content.

The program began under executive authority alone following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Subsequently, in 2006, the federal government first sought approval of the program from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC") under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. This Section 215 order must be reviewed and reapproved by the FISC essentially every 90 days. It has been approved dozens of times by many different federal judges, on the FISC, since its initial approval on May 24, 2006 by the FISC. (See BR 06-05, NS-DC-0009 in this Clearinghouse.)

On June 12, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIAC) filed a motion in the FISC for release of court records including opinions that interpret Section 215. The plaintiffs argued that the First Amendment compels release of the judicial decisions and FISC Court Rule 62 grants the FISC discretion to publish its own orders, opinions, and decisions.

Judge Dennis Saylor IV ruled on September 13, 2013 that the ACLU had standing to bring the case, but he dismissed the claim of MFIAC for lack of standing. The ACLU had moved for release of several opinions interpreting Section 215 that were already the subject of FOIA litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Saylor ordered the government to report which Section 215 Opinions were not subject to the FOIA litigation and to complete a declassification review for each opinion. After the review, the author of each opinion may decide whether to propose publication under Rule 62.

Proceedings were stayed in October 2013 due to a lack of Congressional budget appropriations for the U.S. government.

The government identified one opinion of the Court, issued on February 19, 2013 in docket BR 13-25, that interpreted Section 215 and was not already the subject of FOIA litigation or previous public release. On November 18, 2013, the government filed its two-page declassification review that requested the opinion be withheld in full and a public version could not be provided. On November 20, Judge Saylor ordered the government to submit a detailed explanation of its conclusion that the Opinion is classified in full.

In December 2013, FISC Judge Reggie Walton permitted the motion of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a group of 25 media organizations to file a brief as amici curiae.

On December 20, 2013, the government filed a submission to the Court stating that the February 19 opinion pertained to an ongoing law enforcement investigation, but it did not object if the Court determined to publish non-classified portions of the opinion. The ACLU filed its response to the government's submission on February 19, 2014.

The Court published the February 19 opinion on August 27, 2014. (See BR 13-25, NS-DC-0060 in this Clearinghouse.)

Elizabeth Homan - 05/23/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 06/09/2014
Brian Tengel - 02/15/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Confidentiality
Courts
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action None on record
Defendant(s) Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is the American Civil Liberties Union and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing NS-DC-0026 : In re Opinions and Orders of this Court Addressing Bulk Collection of Data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA Docket Misc. 13-08] (FISC)
NS-DC-0021 : In re Motion for Declaratory Judgment of a First Amendment Right to Publish Aggregate Information about FISA Orders [FISA Docket Misc. 13-03 (Google)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0022 : In re Motion to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders [FISA Docket Misc. 13-04 (Microsoft Corporation)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0027 : In re Motion of ProPublica, Inc. for the Release of Court Records [FISC Docket Misc. 13-09] (FISC)
NS-DC-0060 : In re Application of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things from [redacted], FISC BR 13-25 (FISC)
Additional Resources
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Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
U.S. Response 07.05.13 02/08/2008
NS-DC-0020-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
ACLU Motion for Release 6.12.13 06/10/2013
NS-DC-0020-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of Amici Curiae United States Representatives 7.28.13 06/28/2013
NS-DC-0020-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
ACLU Reply Brief 07.12.13 07/12/2013
NS-DC-0020-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of Amici Curiae Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press 07.15.13 07/15/2013
NS-DC-0020-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order 07.18.13 07/18/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Opinion and Order 09.13.13 09/13/2013 (2013 WL 5460064) (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Stay 10.04.13 10/04/2013
NS-DC-0020-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Memorandum 10/11/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
U.S. First Response to Court's 10.8.13 Order 10/24/2013
NS-DC-0020-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
U.S. Second Response to 10.8.13 Order 11/18/2013
NS-DC-0020-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order 11.20.13 11/20/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of Amici Curiae Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press 11.26.13 11/26/2013
NS-DC-0020-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order on Motion of The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press and 25 Media Organizations for Leave to File Brief as Amici Curiae 12/05/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
U.S. Response to Court's 11.20.13 Order 12/20/2013
NS-DC-0020-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
U.S. Second Response to Court's 11.20.13 Order 02/06/2014
NS-DC-0020-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Movants' Response to Second U.S. Submission 02/19/2014
NS-DC-0020-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Opinion and Order Directing Declassification of Redacted Opinion 08/07/2014 (2014 WL 5442058) (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion and Order Granting Motion for Reconsideration 08/17/2014 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Submission of the United States in Response to the Court's August 7, 2014 Order 08/27/2014 (FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Judges Bates, John D. (FISC, D.D.C., D.C. Circuit)
NS-DC-0020-0002 | NS-DC-0020-0020
McLaughlin, Mary A. (E.D. Pa., FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0009
Saylor, F. Dennis IV (D. Mass., FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0007 | NS-DC-0020-0012 | NS-DC-0020-0018 | NS-DC-0020-0019
Walton, Reggie B. (D.D.C., FISC)
NS-DC-0020-0005 | NS-DC-0020-0014
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0001 | NS-DC-0020-0003 | NS-DC-0020-0017
Brown, Bruce D. (Virginia)
NS-DC-0020-0004 | NS-DC-0020-0013
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0017
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0017
Manes, Jonathan (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0017
Schulz, David A (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0017
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0001 | NS-DC-0020-0003 | NS-DC-0020-0017
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0017
Defendant's Lawyers Carlin, John P. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0008 | NS-DC-0020-0010 | NS-DC-0020-0011 | NS-DC-0020-0015 | NS-DC-0020-0016 | NS-DC-0020-0020
Guahar, Tashina (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0008 | NS-DC-0020-0010 | NS-DC-0020-0011 | NS-DC-0020-0015 | NS-DC-0020-0016
Iftimie, Alex (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0016
Patterson, Nicholas J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0008 | NS-DC-0020-0010 | NS-DC-0020-0011 | NS-DC-0020-0015
Rosenthal, Daniel J (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0020
Smith, Jeffrey Michael (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0008 | NS-DC-0020-0010 | NS-DC-0020-0011 | NS-DC-0020-0015 | NS-DC-0020-0016 | NS-DC-0020-0020
Wiegmann, J. Bradford (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0020-0008 | NS-DC-0020-0010 | NS-DC-0020-0011 | NS-DC-0020-0015 | NS-DC-0020-0016 | NS-DC-0020-0020
Other Lawyers Diskant, Gregory L. (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0006
Kim, Richard I (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0006
Litman, Benjamin L. (New York)
NS-DC-0020-0006

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