University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Microsoft v. U.S. Department of Justice FA-WA-0004
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-00538-JLR ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) National Security
Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
On April 14, 2016, Microsoft filed this suit seeking declaratory judgment under the Declaratory Judgment Act against the U.S. Department of Justice. The case was assigned to Judge James L. Robart. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff alleged that the government's use of gag orders to ... read more >
On April 14, 2016, Microsoft filed this suit seeking declaratory judgment under the Declaratory Judgment Act against the U.S. Department of Justice. The case was assigned to Judge James L. Robart. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff alleged that the government's use of gag orders to prevent the company from telling customers when the government requested their data was unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that sections of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allowing for the use of such gag orders, and absolving the government from notifying affected individuals facially violates the First Amendment right to free speech, and Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

On May 26, 2016, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with Microsoft's support, filed a motion to intervene as an affected organization that uses Microsoft's products. The complaint-in-intervention also alleged that the government's failure to provide notice to affected individuals was unconstitutional. This motion to intervene, along with one other by an unrelated individual, were dismissed in an opinion by Judge Robart on August 28, 2016. That opinion, however, did grant the ACLU amicus curiae status. 2016 WL 4506808.

Many parties, including other technology firms and civil rights organizations, have been granted amicus curiae status for the case.

On July 22, 2016, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the suit, alleging a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for January 23, 2017.

Micah Telegen - 01/22/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Confidentiality
Other
Website
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) United States
Plaintiff Description Microsoft, Inc.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
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
Docket(s)
2:16-cv-00538-JLR (W.D. Wash.) 01/19/2017
FA-WA-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment 04/04/2016
FA-WA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment 06/17/2016
FA-WA-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 07/22/2016
FA-WA-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Motions to Intervene 08/29/2016 (2016 WL 4506808) (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Robart, James L. (W.D. Wash.)
FA-WA-0004-0004 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berengaut, Alexander A. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Doran, Ambika K. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Garland, James M (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Goodloe, Katharine Reams (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Handman, Laura R. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Howard, David M. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002
Palmer, Jonathan (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002
Rummage, Stephen M. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Smith, Bradford L. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0001 | FA-WA-0004-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Brunner, Helen J. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0003 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Coppolino, Anthony J. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0003
Hayes, Annette L. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0003
Keefe, Kerry J. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-0003 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Kneedler, Jennie L. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0003 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0003
Soskin, Eric J. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-0003 | FA-WA-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Balasubramani, Venkat (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Bennard, Kristina Silja (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Berlin, Hayley L. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Brown, Bruce D. (Virginia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Chiang, Emily (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Crum, Travis M. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Freeburg, David Ian (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Gillett, Gabriel (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Goldman, Jessica L. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Katyal, Neal Kumar (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Kerr, Orin S. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Loeb, Robert Mark (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Manes, Johnathan (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
McBride, Ryan P. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
McCune, Philip S. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Parris, Mark Steven (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Pincus, Andrew J. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Roller, Jeremy E. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Scherzer, Aaron W. (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Siekkinen, Nury (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Sommer, Jacob A. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Southwell, Alexander H. (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Sussmann, Michael A. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Sweren-Becker, Eliza (New York)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Williams, Todd T. (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Yanick, Miles Aaron (Washington)
FA-WA-0004-9000
Zwillinger, Marc J. (District of Columbia)
FA-WA-0004-9000

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