Jewel v. NSA
(opposing the NSA’s mass internet surveillance system)

admin Searches and Seizures

Several customers of AT&T sued the NSA because of the NSA’s mass internet dragnet surveillance.  The district court first dismissed the case for lack of standing on the part of the plaintiffs, but the Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that the plaintiffs had shown a particularized injury.  Despite the government’s admission of its surveillance program, the case was dismissed because the district court concluded once again that the plaintiffs did not have standing because, using secret information filed by the government and not provided to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs failed to explain the secret operational details of the surveillance program.

CLDEF filed an amicus curiae first argued that the Court of Appeals previous decision that the plaintiffs had standing should have been an end of that matter and the case should have proceeded to trial on the merits.  Our brief also demonstrated that the NSA’s internet spying program is per se unreasonable, and thus a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Finally, CLDEF attacked the “state secrets” doctrine which the trial court based its decision to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims:  “Any ‘significant risk of potentially harmful effects any disclosures could have on national security’ [as the trial court said] pales in comparison to the significant risk of allowing the Government to do violence to the People’s property interest in their communications, do violence to the limits on the surveillance powers of the federal government, and thereby do violence to our written constitution.”

The case is pending.

CLDEF Amicus Curiae Brief (August 17, 2015)