University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name In re Opinions and Orders of this Court Addressing Bulk Collection of Data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA Docket Misc. 13-08] NS-DC-0026
Docket / Court Misc. 13-08 ( FISC )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Internet Metadata
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, following the disclosure of various dragnet National Security Agency (NSA) ... read more >
For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA matters, see our special collection.

On January 17, 2014, following the disclosure of various dragnet National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs by Edward Snowden, the Director of National Intelligence authorized the declassification and public release of numerous orders approving the NSA's 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. A press release available here.

Under the program, the NSA collected records from large telecommunication companies 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 did not, however, 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 was reviewed and reapproved by the FISC essentially every 90 days. It was approved dozens of times by many different federal judges, on the FISC, following its initial approval on May 24, 2006 by the FISC. (See BR 06-05, NS-DC-0009 in this Clearinghouse.)

(The government encountered substantial backlash as a result of the disclosure of the Bulk Telephony Metadata Program. While this case was ongoing, on May 27, 2015, a federal circuit court in ACLU v. Clapper (NS-NY-0003 in this Clearinghouse) held that Section 215 did not authorize this program. Then, on June 2, 2015, Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, which prohibited the bulk collection of telephony metadata under Section 215. Instead, the telephone companies now retain this telephony metadata, and to obtain any such metadata the government is required to submit applications for a specific target based on a "specific selection term." This application must be approved by the FISC.)

On November 7, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Media Freedom and Information Access of Yale Law School filed a motion in the FISC for release of court records, including opinions that address the legal basis for the bulk collection of data under FISA. The plaintiffs argued that the First Amendment compelled release of these judicial decisions and that FISC Rule 62 gave the FISC discretion to publish its own orders, opinions, and decisions. The ACLU had previously moved for the FISC to release opinions that interpreted Section 215 of FISA, under docket Misc. 13-02. (See Misc. 13-02, NS-DC-0020 in this Clearinghouse.) The litigation under Misc. 13-02 was still ongoing at the time the ACLU filed this case, but Misc. 13-02 was limited to the disclosure of opinions that addressed only Section 215 of FISA, not all bulk collection programs.

The government opposed the motion, arguing that all the relevant opinions had already been released and that the FISC should not order the government to conduct a separate classification; the government argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing and the FISC did not typically involve itself in the declassification process. On 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 in support of the plaintiffs.

The case remained pending until 2017. Before then, the plaintiffs filed several notices of supplemental authority, informing the FISC regarding relevant new court decisions and statutes. Specifically, on October 30, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a notice based on Dhiab v. Obama (compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Confidentiality
Courts
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action FISA Title I Warrant (Electronic Surveillance), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1812
FISA Title III Warrant (Physical Search), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1821-1829
FISA Title IV order (pen register/trap-and-trace), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1841-1846
FISA Title V order (PATRIOT Act § 215, business records or other tangible things), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1861-1862
Defendant(s) Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are 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
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing NS-DC-0020 : In re Orders Issued by This Court Interpreting Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act [FISA Docket Misc. 13-02] (FISC)
NS-NY-0008 : ACLU v. FBI (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-DC-0027 : In re Motion of ProPublica, Inc. for the Release of Court Records [FISC Docket Misc. 13-09] (FISC)
Docket(s)
Misc. 13-08 (FISC)
NS-DC-0026-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
General Documents
Motion for the Release of Court Records
NS-DC-0026-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/07/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Briefing Order (FISC)
NS-DC-0026-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Motion of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 25 Media Organizations for Leave to File Brief as Amici Curiae
NS-DC-0026-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of Amici Curiae
NS-DC-0026-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2013
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 (FISC)
NS-DC-0026-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/05/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
The United States' Opposition to the Motion for The Release of Court Records
NS-DC-0026-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Movants' Reply In Support of Their Motion
NS-DC-0026-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2013
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Notice of Supplemental Authority
NS-DC-0026-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 10/30/2014
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Notice of Supplemental Authority
NS-DC-0026-0009.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/04/2015
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Opinion (2017 WL 427591) (FISC)
NS-DC-0026-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/25/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Movants' Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment & For Joint Briefing With Case No. Misc. 16-01
NS-DC-0026-0016.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 02/21/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Order (2017 WL 1500037) (FISC)
NS-DC-0026-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/22/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Movants' En Banc Opening Brief in Support of Their Motion for the Release of Court Records
NS-DC-0026-0012.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/17/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Supplemental Certification of Bar Membership and Security Clearance Status
NS-DC-0026-0013.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/17/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The United States' Legal Brief to the En Banc Court in Response to the Court's Order of March 22, 2017
NS-DC-0026-0014.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/17/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The United States' Response to Movant's En Banc Opening Brief
NS-DC-0026-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Movants' En Banc Reply Brief in Support of Their Motion for the Release of Court Records
NS-DC-0026-0011.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/01/2017
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Judges Collyer, Rosemary M. (FISC, D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0026-0015 | NS-DC-0026-0017
Walton, Reggie B. (FISC, D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0026-0002 | NS-DC-0026-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0008 | NS-DC-0026-0009 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012
Bloch-Wehba, Hannah (Connecticut)
NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Langford, John (Connecticut)
NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Manes, Jonathan (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0008 | NS-DC-0026-0009
Michelman, Scott (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Schulz, David A (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0008 | NS-DC-0026-0009 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York)
NS-DC-0026-0001 | NS-DC-0026-0007 | NS-DC-0026-0011 | NS-DC-0026-0012 | NS-DC-0026-0013 | NS-DC-0026-0016
Defendant's Lawyers Boente, Dana J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0010
Carlin, John P. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0006
Evans, Stuart J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0010 | NS-DC-0026-0014
Guahar, Tashina (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0006
McCord, Mary B. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0014
Patterson, Nicholas J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0006
Smith, Jeffrey Michael (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0010 | NS-DC-0026-0014
Wiegmann, J. Bradford (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0026-0006
Other Lawyers Brown, Bruce D. (Virginia)
NS-DC-0026-0003 | NS-DC-0026-0004

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -