University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wikimedia Foundation v. National Security Agency NS-MD-0001
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00662-RDB ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On March 10th, 2015, a collective of organizations interested in privacy, led by the Wikimedia Foundation, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. The plaintiffs sued the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the Administrative Procedure ... read more >
On March 10th, 2015, a collective of organizations interested in privacy, led by the Wikimedia Foundation, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. The plaintiffs sued the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the Administrative Procedure Act, and 5 U.S.C. § 702. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the ACLU and private counsel, asked the court to declare “Upstream Surveillance” by the government to be unconstitutional, and to purge all records on plaintiffs obtained through the practice. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the NSA’s surveillance programs, including “PRISM,” implement the unconstitutional method of upstream surveillance. They claimed that these programs make copies of nearly all digital communications, and that the government makes no effort to limit the scope of this surveillance. The plaintiffs allege these practices violate their First and Fourth amendment rights.

After the passage of the FAA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act) in 2008, the NSA was granted authority to conduct warrantless surveillance of all US persons’ international communications. The act includes no requirement for justifying the surveillance, or for attempting to limit those affected by the surveillance. In 2011 under the FAA, the NSA began its upstream surveillance program, which, the complaint, alleges “involves the surveillance of essentially everyone’s communications. Plaintiffs claim this NSA surveillance program is hindering their work and violating their constitutional rights.

On October 23rd, 2015, the court (Judge T.S. Ellis) granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the suit. The court reasoned that the suit did not have proper standing because their complaint did not allege a harm directly attributable to the government’s upstream surveillance.

On December 15th, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal. Oral argument is schedule for December 8th, 2016.

Michael Abrams - 10/04/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Confidentiality
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) National Security Agency
Plaintiff Description Wikimedia Foundation
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
1:15-cv-00662-RDB (D. Md.) 01/04/2016
NS-MD-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 03/10/2015
NS-MD-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 06/19/2015
NS-MD-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint 08/06/2015
NS-MD-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 10/23/2015 (D. Md.)
NS-MD-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ellis, Thomas Selby III (E.D. Va.)
NS-MD-0001-0004 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Browning, John M. (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Gorski, Ashley (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Jeon, Deborah A. (Maryland)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Munkittrick, David A. (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Rocah, David Robert (Maryland)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Sims, Charles S. (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York)
NS-MD-0001-0001 | NS-MD-0001-0003 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berman, Julia Alexandra (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Coppolino, Anthony J. (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-0002
Gilligan, James J (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-0002 | NS-MD-0001-9000
Hunt, Joseph H. (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-0002
Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-0002
Patton, Rodney (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Berlage, Jan Ingham (Maryland)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Crocker, Andrew (California)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Granick, Jennifer Stisa (California)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Kaminski, Margot E (Ohio)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Landis, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Levenson, Emily Lange (Maryland)
NS-MD-0001-9000
Treem, Joshua R (Maryland)
NS-MD-0001-9000

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