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1442
ACLUv.Clapper

UNITEDSTATESCOURTOFAPPEALS
FORTHESECONDCIRCUIT

AugustTerm,2014
(Argued:September2,2014Decided:May7,2015)
DocketNo.1442cv
________________
AMERICANCIVILLIBERTIESUNION,AMERICANCIVILLIBERTIESUNIONFOUNDATION,
NEWYORKCIVILLIBERTIESUNION,NEWYORKCIVILLIBERTIESUNION
FOUNDATION,
PlaintiffsAppellants,
v.
JAMESR.CLAPPER,inhisofficialcapacityasDirectorofNationalIntelligence,
MICHAELS.ROGERS,inhisofficialcapacityasDirectoroftheNationalSecurity
AgencyandChiefoftheCentralSecurityService,ASHTONB.CARTER,inhis
officialcapacityasSecretaryofDefense,LORETTAE.LYNCH,inherofficial
capacityasAttorneyGeneraloftheUnitedStates,andJAMESB.COMEY,inhis
officialcapacityasDirectoroftheFederalBureauofInvestigation,
DefendantsAppellees.*

TheClerkofCourtisrespectfullydirectedtoamendtheofficialcaptioninthis
casetoconformwiththecaptionabove.SeeFed.R.App.P.43(c)(2).

CERTIFIED COPY ISSUED ON 05/07/2015

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Before:
SACKandLYNCH,CircuitJudges,andBRODERICK,DistrictJudge.**
__________________
PlaintiffsappellantsAmericanCivilLibertiesUnionandAmericanCivil
LibertiesUnionFoundation,andNewYorkCivilLibertiesUnionandNewYork
CivilLibertiesUnionFoundation,appealfromadecisionoftheUnitedStates
DistrictCourtfortheSouthernDistrictofNewYork(WilliamH.Pauley,III,
Judge)grantingdefendantsappelleesmotiontodismissanddenyingplaintiffs
appellantsrequestforapreliminaryinjunction.Thedistrictcourtheldthat215
ofthePATRIOTActimpliedlyprecludesjudicialreview;thatplaintiffs
appellantsstatutoryclaimsregardingthescopeof215wouldinanyeventfail
onthemerits;andthat215doesnotviolatetheFourthorFirstAmendmentsto
theUnitedStatesConstitution.Wedisagreeinpart,andholdthat215andthe
statutoryschemetowhichitrelatesdonotprecludejudicialreview,andthatthe
bulktelephonemetadataprogramisnotauthorizedby215.Wetherefore

**

TheHonorableVernonS.Broderick,oftheUnitedStatesDistrictCourtforthe
SouthernDistrictofNewYork,sittingbydesignation.
2

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VACATEthejudgmentofthedistrictcourtandREMANDforfurther
proceedingsconsistentwiththisopinion.
VACATEDANDREMANDED.
RobertD.Sack,CircuitJudge,concursintheopinionoftheCourtandfilesa
separateconcurringopinion.

ALEXANDER ABDO, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation


(JameelJaffer,PatrickToomey,BrettMaxKaufman,CatherineCrump,
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York, NY;
ChristopherT.Dunn,ArthurN.Eisenburg,NewYorkCivilLiberties
Union Foundation, New York, NY, on the brief), New York, NY, for
PlaintiffsAppellants.
STUART F. DELERY, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division,
United States Department of Justice (Douglas N. Letter, H. Thomas
ByronIII,HenryC.Whitaker,AppellateStaff,CivilDivision,United
StatesDepartmentofJustice,Washington,DC;PreetBharara,United
StatesAttorneyfortheSouthernDistrictofNewYork,NewYork,NY;
DavidS.Jones,JohnD.Clopper,EmilyE.Daughtry,AssistantUnited
StatesAttorneys,NewYork,NY,onthebrief),Washington,D.C.,for
DefendantsAppellees.
LauraK.Donohue,GeorgetownUniversityLawCenter,Washington
DC, Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of
Law, Irvine, CA, for Amici Curiae Former Members of the Church
CommitteeandLawProfessorsinSupportofPlaintiffsAppellants.
CharlesS.Sims,ProskauerRoseLLP,NewYork,NY,forAmiciCuriae
SenatorRonWyden,SenatorMarkUdall,andSenatorMartinHeinrichin
SupportofPlaintiffsAppellants.

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Cindy Cohn, Mark Rumold, Andrew Crocker, Electronic Frontier


Foundation,SanFrancisco,CA,forAmiciCuriaeExpertsinComputerand
DataScienceinSupportofAppellantsandReversal.
JohnW.Whitehead,DouglasR.McKusick,TheRutherfordInstitute,
Charlottesville, Virginia, Daniel L. Ackman, Law Office of Daniel
Ackman,NewYork,NY,forAmicusCuriaeTheRutherfordInstitutein
SupportofAppellantsandReversal.
EdwardJ.Davis,LindaSteinman,LacyH.Koonce,III,DavisWright
TremaineLLP,NewYork,NY,forAmicusCuriaePENAmericanCenter,
Inc.,inSupportofAppellants.
JohnFrazer,LawOfficeofJohnFrazer,PLLC,Fairfax,VA,forAmicus
CuriaeNationalRifleAssociationofAmerica,Inc.,inSupportofPlaintiffs
AppellantsandSupportingReversal.
JonathanHafetz,AssociationoftheBaroftheCityofNewYork,Gary
D.Sesser,StephenL.Kass,MichaelShapiro,LauraA.Zaccone,Carter
Ledyard&MilburnLLP,NewYork,NY,forAmicusCuriaeAssociation
oftheBaroftheCityofNewYorkSupportingPlaintiffsAppellantsBrief.

GERARDE.LYNCH,CircuitJudge:
Thisappealconcernsthelegalityofthebulktelephonemetadatacollection
program(thetelephonemetadataprogram),underwhichtheNationalSecurity
Agency(NSA)collectsinbulkonanongoingdailybasisthemetadata
associatedwithtelephonecallsmadebyandtoAmericans,andaggregatesthose
metadataintoarepositoryordatabankthatcanlaterbequeried.Appellants

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challengetheprogramonstatutoryandconstitutionalgrounds.Becausewefind
thattheprogramexceedsthescopeofwhatCongresshasauthorized,wevacate
thedecisionbelowdismissingthecomplaintwithoutreachingappellants
constitutionalarguments.Weaffirmthedistrictcourtsdenialofappellants
requestforapreliminaryinjunction.
BACKGROUND
Intheearly1970s,inaclimatenotaltogetherunliketodays,the
intelligencegatheringandsurveillanceactivitiesoftheNSA,theFBI,andtheCIA
cameunderpublicscrutiny.TheSupremeCourtstruckdowncertainwarrantless
surveillanceproceduresthatthegovernmenthadarguedwerelawfulasan
exerciseofthePresidentspowertoprotectnationalsecurity,remarkingonthe
inherentvaguenessofthedomesticsecurityconcept[and]thenecessarilybroad
andcontinuingnatureofintelligencegathering.UnitedStatesv.U.S.Dist.
CourtfortheE.Dist.ofMich.(Keith),407U.S.297,320(1972).Inresponsetothat
decisionandtoallegationsthatthoseagencieswereabusingtheirpowerinorder
tospyonAmericans,theSenateestablishedtheSelectCommitteetoStudy
GovernmentalOperationswithRespecttoIntelligenceActivities(theChurch
Committee)toinvestigatewhethertheintelligenceagencieshadengagedin
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unlawfulbehaviorandwhetherlegislationwasnecessarytogoverntheir
activities.TheChurchCommitteeexpressedconcernsthattheprivacyrightsof
U.S.citizenshadbeenviolatedbyactivitiesthathadbeenconductedunderthe
rubricofforeignintelligencecollection.
ThefindingsoftheChurchCommittee,alongwiththeSupremeCourts
decisioninKeithandtheallegationsofabusebytheintelligenceagencies,
promptedCongressin1978toenactcomprehensivelegislationaimedat
curtailingabusesanddelineatingtheprocedurestobeemployedinconducting
surveillanceinforeignintelligenceinvestigations.Thatlegislation,theForeign
IntelligenceSurveillanceActof1978(FISA),Pub.L.No.95511,92Stat.1783
(1978)(codifiedasamendedat50U.S.C.1801etseq.),establishedaspecial
court,theForeignIntelligenceSurveillanceCourt(FISC),toreviewthe
governmentsapplicationsfororderspermittingelectronicsurveillance.See50
U.S.C.1803.UnlikeordinaryArticleIIIcourts,theFISCconductsitsusuallyex
parteproceedingsinsecret;itsdecisionsarenot,intheordinarycourse,
disseminatedpublicly.Id.1803(c).
Wearefacedtodaywithacontroversysimilartothatwhichledtothe
KeithdecisionandtheenactmentofFISA.Wemustconfrontthequestion
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whetherasurveillanceprogramthatthegovernmenthasputinplacetoprotect
nationalsecurityislawful.Thatprograminvolvesthebulkcollectionbythe
governmentoftelephonemetadatacreatedbytelephonecompaniesinthe
normalcourseoftheirbusinessbutnowexplicitlyrequiredbythegovernmentto
beturnedoverinbulkonanongoingbasis.Asinthe1970s,therevelationofthis
programhasgeneratedconsiderablepublicattentionandconcernaboutthe
intrusionofgovernmentintoprivatematters.Asinthatera,aswell,thenation
facesseriousthreatstonationalsecurity,includingthethreatofforeign
generatedactsofterrorismagainsttheUnitedStates.Now,asthen,Congressis
taskedinthefirstinstancewithachievingtherightbalancebetweentheseoften
competingconcerns.Todoso,CongresshasamendedFISA,mostsignificantly,
aftertheterroristattacksofSeptember11,2001,inthePATRIOTAct.SeeUSA
PATRIOTACTof2001,Pub.L.No.10756,115Stat.272(2001).Thegovernment
arguesthat215ofthatActauthorizesthetelephonemetadataprogram.Seeid.
215,115Stat.at287(codifiedasamendedat50U.S.C.1861).
I.

TelephoneMetadata
Beforeproceedingtoexplorethedetailsof215ofthePATRIOTAct,we

pausetodefinetelephonemetadata,inordertoclarifythetypeofinformation
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thatthegovernmentargues215authorizesittocollectinbulk.Unlikewhatis
gleanedfromthemoretraditionalinvestigativepracticeofwiretapping,
telephonemetadatadonotincludethevoicecontentoftelephoneconversations.
Rather,theyincludedetailsabouttelephonecalls,including,forexample,the
lengthofacall,thephonenumberfromwhichthecallwasmade,andthephone
numbercalled.Metadatacanalsorevealtheuserordevicemakingorreceivinga
callthroughuniqueidentitynumbersassociatedwiththeequipment(although
thegovernmentmaintainsthattheinformationcollecteddoesnotinclude
informationabouttheidentitiesornamesofindividuals),andprovide
informationabouttheroutingofacallthroughthetelephonenetwork,whichcan
sometimes(althoughnotalways)conveyinformationaboutacallersgeneral
location.Accordingtothegovernment,themetadataitcollectsdonotinclude
cellsitelocationalinformation,whichprovidesamorepreciseindicationofa
callerslocationthancallroutinginformationdoes.
Thattelephonemetadatadonotdirectlyrevealthecontentoftelephone
calls,however,doesnotvitiatetheprivacyconcernsarisingoutofthe
governmentsbulkcollectionofsuchdata.Appellantsandamicitakepainsto
emphasizethestartlingamountofdetailedinformationmetadatacanreveal
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informationthatcouldtraditionallyonlybeobtainedbyexaminingthecontents
ofcommunicationsandthatisthereforeoftenaproxyforcontent.Joint
Appx50(DeclarationofProfessorEdwardW.Felten).Forexample,acalltoa
singlepurposetelephonenumbersuchasahotlinemightrevealthatan
individualis:avictimofdomesticviolenceorrape;aveteran;sufferingfroman
addictionofonetypeoranother;contemplatingsuicide;orreportingacrime.
Metadatacanrevealcivil,political,orreligiousaffiliations;theycanalsoreveal
anindividualssocialstatus,orwhetherandwhenheorsheisinvolvedin
intimaterelationships.1

AreportofarecentstudyinSciencemagazinerevealedhowmuchinformation
canbegleanedfromcreditcardmetadata.Inthestudy,whichusedthreemonths
ofanonymouscreditcardrecordsfor1.1millionpeople,scientistswereableto
reidentify90%oftheindividualswheretheyhadonlyfouradditional
spatiotemporalpointsofinformationforexample,informationthatan
individualwenttooneparticularstoreonfourspecificdays.Suchinformation
couldbegatheredfromsourcesasaccessibleasatweetfromthatindividual.
YvesAlexandredeMontjoye,LauraRadaelli,VivekKumarSingh,AlexSandy
Pentland,UniqueintheShoppingMall:OntheReidentifiabilityofCreditCard
Metadata,Science,Jan.30,2015,at536.Thestudysauthorsconcludedthat,inthe
contextofmostlargescalemetadatasets,itwouldnotbedifficulttoreidentify
individualsevenifthedatawereanonymized.Id.at539.Whilecreditcarddata
differinimportantwaysfromtelephonedata,thestudyillustratesthewaysin
whichmetadatacanbeusedbysophisticatedinvestigatorstodeducesignificant
privateinformationaboutindividuals.
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Werecognizethatmetadataexistinmoretraditionalformats,too,andthat
lawenforcementandothershavealwaysbeenabletoutilizemetadatafor
investigativepurposes.Forexample,justastelephonemetadatamayrevealthe
charitableorganizationsthatanindividualsupports,observationoftheoutside
ofanenvelopesentattheendoftheyearthroughtheUnitedStatesPostalService
tosuchanorganizationmightwellpermitsimilarinferences,withoutrequiring
anexaminationoftheenvelopescontents.Butthestructuredformatof
telephoneandothertechnologyrelatedmetadata,andthevastnewtechnological
capacityforlargescaleandautomatedreviewandanalysis,distinguishthetype
ofmetadataatissueherefrommoretraditionalforms.Themoremetadatathe
governmentcollectsandanalyzes,furthermore,thegreaterthecapacityforsuch
metadatatorevealevermoreprivateandpreviouslyunascertainableinformation
aboutindividuals.Finally,asappellantsandamicipointout,intodays
technologicallybasedworld,itisvirtuallyimpossibleforanordinarycitizento
avoidcreatingmetadataabouthimselfonaregularbasissimplybyconducting
hisordinaryaffairs.
II.

Section215
Theoriginalversionof215,whichpredatedthePATRIOTAct,allowed
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theDirectoroftheFBIorhisdesigneetoobtainordersfromtheFISCauthorizing
commoncarriers,amongothers,toprovidetothegovernmentcertainbusiness
recordsforthepurposeofforeignintelligenceandinternationalterrorism
investigationswherethereexistedspecificandarticulablefactsgivingreasonto
believethatthepersontowhomtherecordspertain[wa]saforeignpoweroran
agentofaforeignpower.Thatprovisionwasenactedin1998asanamendment
toFISA.SeeIntelligenceAuthorizationActforFiscalYear1999,Pub.L.No.105
272,602,112Stat.2396,241011(1998).ThePATRIOTActsubstantiallyrevised
215toprovidefortheproductionnotonlyofbusinessrecordsbutalsoof
anytangiblethings,andtoeliminatetherestrictionsonthetypesofbusinesses
suchorderscanreach.SeeUSAPATRIOTACTof2001,Pub.L.No.10756,215.
AssubsequentlyamendedbysuccessorbillstothePATRIOTAct,thecurrent
versionof215allowstheDirectoroftheFBIorhisdesigneeto
makeanapplicationforanorderrequiringtheproduction
ofanytangiblethings(includingbooks,records,papers,
documents,andotheritems)foraninvestigationtoobtain
foreignintelligenceinformationnotconcerningaUnited
Statespersonortoprotectagainstinternationalterrorism
orclandestineintelligenceactivities.

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50U.S.C.1861(a)(1).Initscurrentform,theprovisionrequiressuchan
applicationtoinclude
a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable
grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are
relevanttoanauthorizedinvestigation(otherthanathreat
assessment) conducted in accordance with subsection
(a)(2) of this section to obtain foreign intelligence
informationnotconcerningaUnitedStatespersonorto
protect against international terrorism or clandestine
intelligenceactivities.
Id.1861(b)(2)(A).Suchanordermayonlyrequiretheproductionofatangible
thingifsuchthingcanbeobtainedwithasubpoenaducestecumissuedbya
courtoftheUnitedStatesinaidofagrandjuryinvestigationorwithanyother
orderissuedbyacourtoftheUnitedStatesdirectingtheproductionofrecordsor
tangiblethings.Id.1861(c)(2)(D).Finally,thestatuterequirestheAttorney
Generaltoadoptspecificminimizationproceduresgoverningtheretentionand
disseminationbythe[FBI]ofanytangiblethings,orinformationtherein,received
bythe[FBI]inresponsetoanorderunderthissubchapter.Id.1861(g)(1).
Because215containedasunsetprovisionfromitsinception,originally
terminatingitsauthorityonDecember31,2005,ithasrequiredsubsequent
renewal.USAPATRIOTActof2001,Pub.L.No.10756,224,115Stat.at295.

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Congresshasrenewed215seventimes,mostrecentlyin2011,atwhichtimeit
wasamendedtoexpireonJune1,2015.SeePATRIOTSunsetsExtensionActof
2011,Pub.L.No.11214,125Stat.216(2011).
III.

TheTelephoneMetadataProgram
Americansfirstlearnedaboutthetelephonemetadataprogramthat

appellantsnowchallengeonJune5,2013,whentheBritishnewspaperThe
GuardianpublishedaFISCorderleakedbyformergovernmentcontractor
EdwardSnowden.TheorderdirectedVerizonBusinessNetworkServices,Inc.
(Verizon),atelephonecompany,toproducetotheNSAonanongoingdaily
basis...allcalldetailrecordsortelephonymetadatacreatedbyVerizonfor
communications(i)betweentheUnitedStatesandabroad;or(ii)whollywithin
theUnitedStates,includinglocaltelephonecalls.InreApplicationoftheFBI
foranOrderRequiringtheProd.ofTangibleThingsFromVerizonBus.Network
Servs.,Inc.,exrel.MCICommcnServs.,Inc.,d/b/aVerizonBus.Servs.(Verizon
SecondaryOrder),No.BR1380,slipop.at2(F.I.S.C.Apr.25,2013).Theorder
thusrequiresVerizontoproducecalldetailrecords,everyday,onalltelephone
callsmadethroughitssystemsorusingitsserviceswhereoneorbothendsofthe
callarelocatedintheUnitedStates.
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Aftertheorderwaspublished,thegovernmentacknowledgedthatitwas
partofabroaderprogramofbulkcollectionoftelephonemetadatafromother
telecommunicationsproviderscarriedoutpursuantto215.Itisnow
undisputedthatthegovernmenthasbeencollectingtelephonemetadata
informationinbulkunder215sinceatleastMay2006,whentheFISCfirst
authorizedittodosoinaPrimaryOrderdescribingthetangiblethingstobe
producedasallcalldetailrecordsortelephonymetadatacreatedby
[redacted]...,includ[ing]comprehensivecommunicationsroutinginformation,
includingbutnotlimitedtosessionidentifyinginformation(e.g.,originatingand
terminatingtelephonenumber[s],communicationsdeviceidentifier[s],etc.),
trunkidentifier,andtimeanddurationofcall.InreApplicationoftheFBIfor
anOrderRequiringtheProd.ofTangibleThingsFrom[Redacted](2006Primary
Order),No.BR0605,slipop.at2(F.I.S.C.May24,2006),
http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/section/pub_May%2024%202006%20Order
%20from%20FISC.pdf.
ThatorderspecifiedthattheitemsweretobeproducedtotheNSA;that
therewerereasonablegroundstobelievethetangiblethingssought[were]
relevanttoauthorizedinvestigations...toprotectagainstinternational
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terrorism;andthattheitemssoughtcouldbeobtainedwithasubpoenaduces
tecumissuedbyacourtoftheUnitedStatesinaidofagrandjuryinvestigation
orwithanyotherorderissuedbyacourtoftheUnitedStatesdirectingthe
productionofrecordsortangiblethings.Id.at3.Theorderrequiredits
recipient,uponreceivingtheappropriatesecondaryorder,2tocontinue
productiononanongoingdailybasis...forthedurationofth[e]orderand
contemplatedcreationofadataarchivethatwouldonlybeaccessedwhen
NSAhasidentifiedaknowntelephonenumberforwhich...therearefacts
givingrisetoareasonable,articulablesuspicionthatthetelephonenumberis
associatedwith[Redacted]presumably,withterroristactivityoraspecific
terroristorganization.Id.at45.TheorderalsostatesthattheNSAexclusively
willoperatethenetworkonwhichthemetadataarestoredandprocessed.Id.at
5.
ThegovernmenthasdisclosedadditionalFISCordersreauthorizingthe
program.FISCordersmustberenewedevery90days,andtheprogramhas
thereforebeenrenewed41timessinceMay2006.Mostrecently,theprogram

TheorderpublishedinTheGuardianandservedonVerizonwasonesuch
SecondaryOrder.
15

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wasreauthorizedbytheFISConFebruary26,2015;thatauthorizationexpireson
June1,2015.SeeInreApplicationoftheFBIforanOrderRequiringtheProd.of
TangibleThingsFrom[Redacted],No.BR1524(F.I.S.C.Feb.26,2015),
http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/0311/BR%201524%20Primary%20Order%2
0%20Redacted.pdf.
Thegovernmentdisputesappellantscharacterizationoftheprogramas
collectingvirtuallyalltelephonymetadataassociatedwithcallsmadeor
receivedintheUnitedStates,butdeclinestoelaborateonthescopeofthe
programorspecifyhowtheprogramfallsshortofthatdescription.Itisunclear,
however,inwhatwayappellantscharacterizationoftheprogramcanbefaulted.
Onitsface,theVerizonorderrequirestheproductionofallcalldetailrecordsor
telephonymetadatarelatingtoVerizoncommunicationswithintheUnited
StatesorbetweentheUnitedStatesandabroad.VerizonSecondaryOrder2
(emphasisadded).TheVerizonorderandthePrimaryOrderdescribedabove
revealthatthemetadatacollectedincludecomprehensivecommunications
routinginformation,includingbutnotlimitedtosessionidentifyinginformation
(e.g.,originatingandterminatingtelephonenumber,InternationalMobile
SubscriberIdentity(IMSI)number,InternationalMobilestationEquipment
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Identity(IMEI)number,etc.),trunkidentifier,3telephonecallingcardnumbers,
andtimeanddurationofcall.VerizonSecondaryOrder2;seealso2006
PrimaryOrder2.ThegovernmentdoesnotsuggestthatVerizonistheonly
telephoneserviceprovidersubjecttosuchanorder;indeed,itdoesnotseriously
disputeappellantscontentionthatallsignificantserviceprovidersintheUnited
Statesaresubjecttosimilarorders.
Thegovernmentexplainsthatitusesthebulkmetadatacollectedpursuant
totheseordersbymakingqueriesusingmetadataidentifiers(alsoreferredto
asselectors),orparticularphonenumbersthatitbelieves,basedon
reasonablearticulablesuspicion,tobeassociatedwithaforeignterrorist
organization.JointAppx264(DeclarationofTeresaH.Shea).Theidentifieris
usedasaseedtosearchacrossthegovernmentsdatabase;thesearchresults
yieldphonenumbers,andthemetadataassociatedwiththem,thathavebeenin
contactwiththeseed.Id.Thatstepisreferredtoasthefirsthop.TheNSA
canthenalsosearchforthenumbers,andassociatedmetadata,thathavebeenin
contactwiththenumbersresultingfromthefirstsearchconductingasecond
3

Atrunkidentifierprovidesinformationregardinghowacallisrouted
throughthetelephonenetwork,revealinggeneralinformationabouttheparties
locations.
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hop.Id.at265.Untilrecently,theprogramallowedforanotheriterationofthe
process,suchthatathirdhopcouldbeconducted,sweepinginresultsthat
includethemetadataof,essentially,thecontactsofcontactsofcontactsofthe
originalseed.Id.Thegovernmentassertsthatitdoesnotconductanygeneral
browsingofthedata.Id.at26365.
Section215requiresthattheAttorneyGeneraladoptspecific
minimizationproceduresgoverningtheretentionanddisseminationbythe
[government]of[information]received...inresponsetoanorderunderthis
subchapter.50U.S.C.1861(g)(1).Theproceduresthathavebeenadopted
includetherequirementthattheNSAstorethemetadatawithinsecurenetworks;
thatthemetadatanotbeaccessedforanypurposeotherthanwhatisallowed
undertheFISCorder;thattheresultsofqueriesnotbedisseminatedoutsidethe
NSAexceptinaccordancewiththeminimizationanddissemination
requirementsofNSAprocedures;andthattherelevantpersonnelreceive
comprehensivetrainingontheminimizationproceduresandtechnicalcontrols.
JointAppx26769.Andasthegovernmentpointsout,theprogramissubjectto
oversightbytheDepartmentofJustice,theFISC,andCongress.Id.at269.The
minimizationproceduresrequireauditsandreviewsoftheprogrambythe
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NSAslegalandoversightoffices,theOfficeoftheInspectorGeneral,attorneys
fromtheDepartmentofJusticesNationalSecurityDivision,andtheOfficeofthe
DirectorofNationalIntelligence.Id.TheFISCordersthatcreatedtheprogram
requiretheNSAtoprovideperiodicreportstotheFISC.Id.at141.Intheevent
offailuresofcompliance,reportsmustbemadetotheFISC,and,wherethose
failuresaresignificant,totheIntelligenceandJudiciaryCommitteesofboth
housesofCongress.Id.at269.FISAitselfalsoimposesasystemof
Congressionaloversight,requiringperiodicreportsontheprogramfromthe
AttorneyGeneraltotheHouseandSenateIntelligenceandJudiciary
Committees.See50U.S.C.1862,1871.
Sincetheexistenceofthetelephonemetadataprogrambecamepublic,a
numberofdevelopmentshavealteredthelandscape,atleasttosomedegree,
withinwhichweanalyzetheprogram.Amongthemostnotableare
modificationstothetelephonemetadataprogramannouncedbyPresident
ObamainJanuary2014.PresidentBarackObama,RemarksbythePresidenton
ReviewofSignalsIntelligence(Jan.17,2014),http://www.whitehouse.gov/the
pressoffice/2014/01/17/remarkspresidentreviewsignalsintelligence.Thetwo
immediatemodificationsthatthePresidentordered,whichweresubsequently
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incorporatedinaFISCordersoughtbygovernmentmotion,(1)limitedthe
numberofhopsthatcanbesearchedtotwo,ratherthanthree,and(2)required
thataFISCjudgefindthatthereasonablearticulablesuspicionstandardhasbeen
satisfiedbeforeaseedcanbequeried,ratherthan(ashadpreviouslybeenthe
case)allowingdesignatedNSAofficialstodetermineforthemselveswhether
suchsuspicionexisted.Id.BothlimitationswereapprovedbytheFISCina
February5,2014FISCorder.InreApplicationoftheFBIforanOrderRequiring
theProd.ofTangibleThings,No.BR1401(F.I.S.C.Feb.5,2014),
http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/courts/fisc/br1401order.pdf.These
modificationswerebasedinpartontherecommendationsoftheReviewGroup
onIntelligenceandCommunicationsTechnologiesestablishedbythePresident.
SeePresidentsReviewGrp.onIntelligenceandCommcnsTechs.,Libertyand
SecurityinaChangingWorld:Rep.andRecommendationsofthePresidents
ReviewGrp.onIntelligenceandCommcnsTechs.(Dec.12,2013),
https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/20131212_rg_final_report.
pdf.TheReviewGroupalsorecommendedthatthesystembemodifiedsuch
thatathirdpartyortheprivatecarriers,ratherthanthegovernment,collectand

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retainthebulkmetadata.Thatrecommendation,however,hassofarnotbeen
adopted.
Inadditiontothatgroup,thePrivacyandCivilLibertiesOversightBoard
(PCLOB)publishedadetailedreportontheprogram.ThePCLOBisa
bipartisanagencywithintheexecutivebranchthatwasestablishedin2007,
pursuanttoarecommendationfromtheNationalCommissiononTerrorist
AttacksUpontheUnitedStates(the9/11Commission,establishedafterthe
September11,2001terroristattackstoprepareanaccountofthecircumstances
surroundingtheattacks),inordertomonitortheactionstakenbythe
governmenttoprotectthenationfromterrorismandtoensurethattheyare
appropriatelybalancedagainsttheneedtoprotectprivacyandcivilliberties.See
ImplementingRecommendationsofthe9/11CommnActof2007,Pub.L.
No.11053,121Stat.266(2007).ThePCLOBconcludedthattheprogramwas
inconsistentwith215,violatedtheElectronicCommunicationsPrivacyAct,and
implicatedprivacyandFirstAmendmentconcerns.SeePrivacyandCivil
LibertiesOversightBoard,Rep.ontheTel.RecordsProgramConductedUnder
Section215oftheUSAPATRIOTActandontheOperationsoftheForeign
IntelligenceSurveillanceCourt(Jan.23,2014)(PCLOBReport),
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https://www.pclob.gov/library/215Report_on_the_Telephone_Records_Program.
pdf.
Legislationaimedatincorporatingstrongerprotectionsofindividual
libertiesintothetelephonemetadataprograminavarietyofways(oreliminating
italtogether)wasintroducedinboththeHouseandtheSenateduringthe113th
Congress.SeeUSAFREEDOMAct,H.R.3361,113thCong.(2014);USA
FREEDOMAct,S.2685,113thCong.(2014).AmodifiedversionofH.R.3361,
whichlostthebackingofsomeofthebillsoriginalsupportersbecauseitfailedto
endbulkcollection,neverthelesspassedtheHouseinMay2014.USA
FREEDOMAct,H.R.3361,113thCong.(2014).InNovember2014,however,a
motiontoinvokeclotureontheSenatesversionofthebillrelativelymore
robustintermsofprivacyprotectionsfailedbyavoteof5842,thereby
preventingthebillfromcomingupforavoteintheSenatedespitethedesireof
58senatorstoproceedtoavoteonthemeasure.USAFREEDOMAct,S.2685,
113thCong.(2014).ThecurrentCongressislikewiseconsideringbillsaimedat
modifying215;abillthatwouldplacethebulkmetadatacollectedintothe
handsoftelecommunicationsproviders,tobeaccessedbythegovernmentonly
withFISCauthorization,hasbeenintroducedinboththeHouseandtheSenatein
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recentweeks.SeeUSAFREEDOMActof2015,H.R.2048/S.1123,114thCong.
(2015).OnApril30,2015,thebillpassedtheHouseJudiciaryCommittee.See
USAFREEDOMActof2015,H.R.2048,114thCong.(2015).Avotefromthefull
Houseonthebillisexpectedlaterthismonth.
Finally,theprogramhascomeunderscrutinybyArticleIIIcourtsother
thantheFISC.Inadditiontothiscase,similarcaseshavebeenfiledaroundthe
countrychallengingthegovernmentsbulkcollectionoftelephonemetadata.
See,e.g.,Smithv.Obama,24F.Supp.3d1005(D.Idaho2014),No.1435555(9th
Cir.arguedDec.8,2014);Klaymanv.Obama,957F.Supp.2d1(D.D.C.2013),
No.145004(D.C.Cir.arguedNov.4,2014).
IV.

ProceduralHistory
OnJune11,2013,theAmericanCivilLibertiesUnionandAmericanCivil

LibertiesUnionFoundation(collectively,ACLU)andtheNewYorkCivil
LibertiesUnionandNewYorkCivilLibertiesUnionFoundation(collectively,
NYCLU)currentandformerVerizoncustomers,respectivelysuedthe
governmentofficialsresponsibleforadministeringthetelephonemetadata
program,challengingtheprogramonbothstatutoryandconstitutionalgrounds
andseekingdeclaratoryandinjunctiverelief.Thecomplaintasksthecourtto
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declarethatthetelephonemetadataprogramexceedstheauthoritygrantedby
215,andalsoviolatestheFirstandFourthAmendmentstotheU.S.
Constitution.Itasksthecourttopermanentlyenjoindefendantsfromcontinuing
theprogram,andtoorderdefendantstopurgefromtheirpossessionallofthe
callrecordsof[p]laintiffscommunicationscollectedinaccordancewiththe
program.JointAppx27.
OnAugust26,2013,plaintiffsmovedforapreliminaryinjunctionbarring
defendantsfromcollectingtheircallrecordsundertheprogram,requiring
defendantstoquarantineallofthecallrecordstheyhadalreadycollected,and
prohibitingdefendantsfromusingtheirrecordstoperformqueriesonanyphone
numberorotheridentifierassociatedwithplaintiffs.Onthesamedate,the
governmentmovedtodismissthecomplaint.
OnDecember27,2013,thedistrictcourtgrantedthegovernmentsmotion
todismissanddeniedplaintiffsmotionforapreliminaryinjunction.SeeACLU
v.Clapper,959F.Supp.2d724(S.D.N.Y.2013).Plaintiffsnowappealthat
decision.

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DISCUSSION
Wereviewdenovoadistrictcourtsgrantofamotiontodismissunder
FederalRulesofCivilProcedure12(b)(1)and12(b)(6).Klein&Co.Futures,Inc.
v.Bd.ofTradeofCityofNewYork,464F.3d255,259(2dCir.2006);seealso
LotesCo.,Ltd.v.HonHaiPrecisionIndus.Co.,753F.3d395,403(2dCir.2014).
Wereviewadistrictcourtsdenialofapreliminaryinjunctionforabuseof
discretion,seeCent.RabbinicalCong.ofU.S.&Canadav.N.Y.C.DeptofHealth
&MentalHygiene,763F.3d183,192(2dCir.2014),whichoccurswhenthe
courtsdecisioneitherrestsonanerroroflaw...oraclearlyerroneousfactual
finding,or...itsdecisionthoughnotnecessarilytheproductofalegalerroror
aclearlyerroneousfactualfindingcannotbelocatedwithintherangeof
permissibledecisions,Vincentyv.Bloomberg,476F.3d74,83(2dCir.2007).
I.

Standing
Thedistrictcourtruledthatappellantshadstandingtobringthiscase.

Clapper,959F.Supp.2dat738.Thegovernmentarguesthatthedistrictcourts
rulingwaserroneous,contendingthatappellantslackstandingbecausethey
havenotdemonstratedthatanyofthemetadataassociatedwiththemhavebeen
orwillbeactuallyreviewedbythegovernment,andhavenototherwise
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identifiedaninjurythatissufficientlyconcreteorimminenttoconferstanding.
Werecognizethat[n]oprincipleismorefundamentaltothejudiciarysproper
roleinoursystemofgovernmentthantheconstitutionallimitationoffederal
courtjurisdictiontoactualcasesorcontroversies.Clapperv.AmnestyIntl
USA,133S.Ct.1138,1146(2013),quotingDaimlerChryslerCorp.v.Cuno,547
U.S.332,341(2006)(alterationinoriginal).Inordertomeetthatrequirement,
plaintiffsmust,amongotherthings,establishthattheyhavestandingtosue.
Rainesv.Byrd,521U.S.811,818(1997).StandingunderArticleIIIofthe
Constitutionrequiresthataninjurybeconcrete,particularized,andactualor
imminent;fairlytraceabletothechallengedaction;andredressablebya
favorableruling.MonsantoCo.v.GeertsonSeedFarms,561U.S.139,149
(2010);seealsoAmnestyIntl,133S.Ct.at1147(collectingcases).TheSupreme
Courthasrepeatedlyreiteratedthatthreatenedinjurymustbecertainly
impendingtoconstituteinjuryinfact,andthat[a]llegationsofpossiblefuture
injuryarenotsufficient.AmnestyIntl,133S.Ct.at1147,quotingWhitmorev.
Arkansas,495U.S.149,158(1990)(emphasisinoriginal).Weremainmindful
thatthestandinginquiryhasbeenespeciallyrigorouswhenreachingthemerits
of[a]disputewouldforceustodecidewhetheranactiontakenbyoneofthe
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othertwobranchesoftheFederalGovernmentwasunconstitutionalandin
casesinwhichtheJudiciaryhasbeenrequestedtoreviewactionsofthepolitical
branchesinthefieldsofintelligencegatheringandforeignaffairs.Id.,quoting
Raines,521U.S.at81920.
Appellantsinthiscasehave,despitethosesubstantialhurdles,established
standingtosue,asthedistrictcourtcorrectlyheld.Appellantshereneednot
speculatethatthegovernmenthascollected,ormayinthefuturecollect,theircall
records.Tothecontrary,thegovernmentsownordersdemonstratethat
appellantscallrecordsareindeedamongthosecollectedaspartofthetelephone
metadataprogram.Norhasthegovernmentdisputedthatclaim.Itargues
insteadthatanyallegedinjuriesheredependonthegovernmentsreviewingthe
informationcollected,andthatappellantshavenotshownanythingmorethana
speculativeprospectthattheirtelephonenumberswouldeverbeusedasa
selectortoquery,orbeincludedintheresultsofqueriesof,thetelephony
metadata.AppelleesBr.22.
Butthegovernmentsargumentmisapprehendswhatisrequiredto
establishstandinginacasesuchasthisone.Appellantschallengethetelephone
metadataprogramasawhole,alleginginjuryfromtheverycollectionoftheir
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telephonemetadata.And,asthedistrictcourtobserved,itisnotdisputedthat
thegovernmentcollectedtelephonemetadataassociatedwiththeappellants
telephonecalls.TheFourthAmendmentprotectsagainstunreasonablesearches
andseizures.Appellantscontendthatthecollectionoftheirmetadataexceedsthe
scopeofwhatisauthorizedby215andconstitutesaFourthAmendment
search.Wethinksuchcollectionismoreappropriatelychallenged,atleastfroma
standingperspective,asaseizureratherthanasasearch.Whetherornotsuch
claimsprevailonthemerits,appellantssurelyhavestandingtoallegeinjury
fromthecollection,andmaintenanceinagovernmentdatabase,ofrecords
relatingtothem.[A]violationofthe[Fourth]Amendmentisfully
accomplishedatthetimeofanunreasonablegovernmentalintrusion.United
Statesv.VerdugoUrquidez,494U.S.259,264(1990)(internalquotationmarks
omitted).Ifthetelephonemetadataprogramisunlawful,appellantshave
sufferedaconcreteandparticularizedinjuryfairlytraceabletothechallenged
programandredressablebyafavorableruling.
AmnestyInternationaldoesnotholdotherwise.There,theSupreme
Court,reversingourdecision,heldthatrespondentshadnotestablishedstanding
becausetheycouldnotshowthatthegovernmentwassurveillingthem,orthat
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suchsurveillancewascertainlyimpending.131S.Ct.at11481150.Instead,
theSupremeCourtstatedthatrespondentsstandingargumentswerebasedona
speculativechainofpossibilitiesthatrequiredthat:respondentsforeign
contactsbetargetedforsurveillance;thesurveillancebeconductedpursuantto
thestatutechallenged,ratherthanundersomeotherauthority;theFISCapprove
thesurveillance;thegovernmentactuallyinterceptthecommunicationsofthe
foreigncontacts;andamongthoseinterceptedcommunicationsbethose
involvingrespondents.Id.Becauserespondentsinjuryreliedonthatchainof
eventsactuallytranspiring,theCourtheldthattheallegedinjurywasnotfairly
traceabletothestatutebeingchallenged.Id.at1150.Astocostsincurredby
respondentstoavoidsurveillance,theCourtcharacterizedthosecostsasa
productoftheirfearofsurveillanceinsufficienttoconferstanding.Id.at1152.
Here,appellantsallegedinjuryrequiresnospeculationwhatsoeverasto
howeventswillunfoldunder215appellantsrecords(amongthoseof
numerousothers)havebeentargetedforseizurebythegovernment;the
governmenthasusedthechallengedstatutetoeffectthatseizure;theordershave
beenapprovedbytheFISC;andtherecordshavebeencollected.Amnesty
Internationalsspeculativechainofpossibilitiesis,inthiscontext,areality.
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Thatcaseinnowaysuggestedthatsuchdatawouldneedtobereviewedor
analyzedinorderforrespondentstosufferinjury.
Thegovernmentalsotakesissuewiththedistrictcourtsrelianceon
AmidaxTradingGroupv.S.W.I.F.T.SCRL,671F.3d140(2dCir.2011).In
Amidax,weheldthatplaintiffshadnotestablishedstandingtochallengethe
governmentsacquisitionoffinancialrecordsfromSWIFT,amessagingservice
thatroutesfinancialtransactions,viaadministrativesubpoenasissuedbythe
OfficeofForeignAssetControl.Id.at14849.Becausetherewasinsufficient
supportfortheallegationthatAmidaxsownrecordswereamongthosehanded
overtothegovernment,weheldthatAmidaxhadnotallegedaplausibleinjury
infact.Id.Thatcase,too,differsfromthecaseatbar,whereappellantshave
presentedevidencethattheirdataarebeingcollected.TotheextentAmidax
speakstothecircumstancespresentedbythiscase,itsupports,albeitindictum,
appellantsposition.WenotedinAmidaxthat[t]oestablishaninjuryinfact
andthus,apersonalstakeinthislitigation[Amidax]needonlyestablishthatits
informationwasobtainedbythegovernment.Id.at147(secondalterationin
original).There,too,weviewedthecollectionofthedatainquestion,ifithadin

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factoccurred,asaninjurysufficienttoconferstanding,withoutconsidering
whethersuchdatawerelikelytobereviewed.
Finally,thegovernmentadmitsthat,whenitqueriesitsdatabase,its
computerssearchallofthematerialstoredinthedatabaseinordertoidentify
recordsthatmatchthesearchterm.Indoingso,itnecessarilysearches
appellantsrecordselectronically,evenifsuchasearchdoesnotreturn
appellantsrecordsforclosereviewbyahumanagent.Thereisnoquestionthat
anequivalentmanualreviewoftherecords,insearchofconnectionstoasuspect
personortelephone,wouldconferstandingevenonthegovernmentsanalysis.
Thatthesearchisconductedbyamachinemightlessentheintrusion,butdoes
notdepriveappellantsofstandingtoobjecttothecollectionandreviewoftheir
data.
AppellantslikewisehavestandingtoassertaFirstAmendmentviolation.
AppellantscontendthattheirFirstAmendmentassociationalrightsarebeing
violated,bothdirectlyandthroughachillingeffectonclientsanddonors.The
SupremeCourthaslongrecognizedthatanorganizationcanassertassociational
privacyrightsonbehalfofitsmembers,statingthat[i]tishardlyanovel
perceptionthatcompelleddisclosureofaffiliationwithgroupsengagedin
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advocacymayconstitute...arestraintonfreedomofassociation.NAACPv.
Alabama,357U.S.449,462(1958).InNAACP,furthermore,theSupremeCourt
heldthattheorganizationargue[d]...appropriatelytherightsofitsmembers,
andthatitsnexuswiththem[wa]ssufficienttopermitthatitactastheir
representativebeforethisCourt.Id.at45859.Wehavesimilarlystatedthata
unionsstandingtoasserttheFirstandFourteenthAmendmentrightsof
associationandprivacyofitsindividualmembersisbeyonddispute.Local
1814,IntlLongshoremensAssnv.WaterfrontCommnofN.Y.Harbor,667F.2d
267,270(2dCir.1981).Whenthegovernmentcollectsappellantsmetadata,
appellantsmembersinterestsinkeepingtheirassociationsandcontactsprivate
areimplicated,andanypotentialchillingeffectiscreatedatthatpoint.
Appellantshavethereforeallegedaconcrete,fairlytraceable,andredressable
injurysufficienttoconferstandingtoasserttheirFirstAmendmentclaimsas
well.
II.

PreclusionandtheAdministrativeProcedureAct
Thegovernmentnextcontendsthatappellantsareimpliedlyprecluded

frombringingsuittochallengethetelephonemetadataprogramonstatutory
grounds.Accordingtothegovernment,thestatutoryschemesetoutby215
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limitsjudicialreviewof215orderstotheFISCanditsspecializedmechanism
forappellatereview,AppelleesBr.26,andprovidesforchallengestothose
ordersonlybyrecipientsof215orders(thatis,thecommunicationscompanies),
ratherthanthetargetsofsuchorders,therebyimpliedlyprecludingappellants
herefrombringingsuitinfederalcourt.Thegovernmentalsoarguesthat18
U.S.C.2712impliedlyprecludesthereliefappellantsseek,eitherindependently
orinconjunctionwiththelargerstatutoryframeworkestablishedbythetwo
provisions.
A.

Section215andImpliedPreclusion

TheAdministrativeProcedureAct(APA)waivessovereignimmunity
forsuitsagainsttheUnitedStatesforreliefotherthanmoneydamages.Under
theAPA,[a]personsufferinglegalwrongbecauseofagencyaction,or
adverselyaffectedoraggrievedbyagencyactionwithinthemeaningofa
relevantstatute,isentitledtojudicialreviewthereof,andcanbringsuitinan
actioninacourtoftheUnitedStatesseekingreliefotherthanmoneydamages.
5U.S.C.702.TheAPAthusestablishesabroadrightofjudicialreviewof
administrativeaction.TheAPAdoesnot,however,applywherestatutes
precludejudicialreview.Id.701.
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Indeterminingwhetherjudicialreviewisprecludedunderaparticular
statute,wemustbeginwiththestrongpresumptionthatCongressintends
judicialreviewofadministrativeaction.Fromthebeginningourcases[have
established]thatjudicialreviewofafinalagencyactionbyanaggrievedperson
willnotbecutoffunlessthereispersuasivereasontobelievethatsuchwasthe
purposeofCongress.Bowenv.Mich.Acad.ofFamilyPhysicians,476U.S.667,
670(1986),quotingAbbottLabs.v.Gardner,387U.S.136,140(1967)(alterations
inoriginal).[O]nly...ashowingofclearandconvincingevidenceofa
contrarylegislativeintentcanrebutthepresumptionthatCongressintended
thatanactionbesubjecttojudicialreview.Bowen,476U.S.at672,quoting
AbbottLabs.,387U.S.at141.TheSupremeCourthasemphasizedthatthereisa
heavyburdenonapartythatattemptstoovercomethispresumption.Id.
(internalquotationmarksomitted).
Thatburdenis,ofcourse,notinsurmountable,andmaybeovercomeby
specificlanguageorspecificlegislativehistorythatisareliableindicatorof
congressionalintent.Blockv.Cmty.NutritionInst.,467U.S.340,349(1984).
Suchanintentmustbefairlydiscernibleinthestatutoryscheme,id.at351
(internalquotationmarksomitted),lookingtotheschemesstructure...,its
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objectives,itslegislativehistory,andthenatureoftheadministrativeaction
involved,id.at345.Importantly,wheresubstantialdoubtaboutthe
congressionalintentexists,thegeneralpresumptionfavoringjudicialreviewof
administrativeactioniscontrolling.NRDCv.Johnson,461F.3d164,172(2d
Cir.2006),quotingBlock,467U.S.at351.Impliedpreclusionofreviewisthus
disfavored.
Thegovernmentpointstonolanguagein215,orinFISAorthePATRIOT
Actmoregenerally,thatexcludesactionstakenbyexecutiveoradministrative
officialspursuanttoitstermsfromthepresumptionofjudicialreviewestablished
bytheAPA.Rather,itarguesthattheprovisionofonemechanismforjudicial
review,atthebehestofpartiesotherthanthosewhoseprivacymaybe
compromisedbytheseizure,impliedlyprecludesreviewpursuanttotheAPAby
partiesthusaggrieved.Tounderstandthatargument,webeginbydescribingthe
provisionforjudicialreviewonwhichthegovernmentrelies.
Arecipientofa215ordermaychallengeitslegalitybyfilingapetition
withthepoolofFISCjudgesestablishedbythestatute.50U.S.C.
1861(f)(2)(A)(i).ThatdecisioncanthenbeappealedtotheFISACourtof
Review.Id.1861(f)(3).Thestatutealsoprovidesthat[a]nyproductionor
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nondisclosureordernotexplicitlymodifiedorsetasideconsistentwiththis
subsectionshallremaininfulleffect.Id.1861(f)(2)(D).
Accordingtothegovernment,thoseprovisionsestablishalimitedand
detailedframeworkthatevincesCongressionalintenttolimitjudicialreviewto
themethodspecified.Boththegovernmentandthedistrictcourtpointtothe
SupremeCourtslanguageinBlockthatwhenastatuteprovidesadetailed
mechanismforjudicialconsiderationofparticularissuesatthebehestof
particularpersons,judicialreviewofthoseissuesatthebehestofotherpersons
maybefoundtobeimpliedlyprecluded.Block,467U.S.at349.
Butthatisnotalwaysthecase.TheSupremeCourthasalsonotedthatif
theexpressprovisionofjudicialreviewinonesectionofalongandcomplicated
statutewerealoneenoughtoovercometheAPAspresumptionofreviewability
forallfinalagencyaction,itwouldnotbemuchofapresumptionatall.Sackett
v.EPA,132S.Ct.1367,1373(2012).Thequestionremainswhetherthe
governmenthasdemonstratedbyclearandconvincingordiscernibleevidence
thatCongressintendedtoprecludereviewintheseparticularcircumstances.

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(1)

Secrecy

Thegovernmentsprimaryargumentinsupportofpreclusionisbasedon
thevarioussecrecyprovisionsthatattachto215orders.Forexample,215
statesthat[n]opersonshalldisclosetoanyotherpersonthattheFederalBureau
ofInvestigationhassoughtorobtainedtangiblethingspursuanttoanorder
underthissectionunlessdisclosureisnecessarytocomplywiththeorder;the
disclosureismadetoanattorneyforadviceorassistanceinconnectionwiththe
order;orthedisclosureismadetoothersaspermittedbytheFBIDirectororhis
designee.50U.S.C.1861(d)(1).Andthestatuteexplicitlylaysoutvarious
supplementalsecrecyproceduresaccompanyingthereviewprocess,including
therequirementsthattherecordsofanysuchproceedingsbemaintainedunder
securitymeasuresestablishedbytheChiefJusticeoftheUnitedStates,in
consultationwiththeAttorneyGeneralandtheDirectorofNational
Intelligence,id.1861(f)(4);that[a]llpetitions...befiledunderseal,
id.1861(f)(5);andthat,inthecaseofanygovernmentsubmissionthatmay
containclassifiedinformation,thecourtreviewitexparteandincamera,id.
Thesesecrecymeasures,thegovernmentargues,areevidencethatCongressdid

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notintendthat215ordersbereviewableinfederalcourtuponsuitbyan
individualwhosemetadataarecollected.
Uponcloseranalysis,however,thatargumentfails.Thegovernmenthas
pointedtonoaffirmativeevidence,whetherclearandconvincingorfairly
discernible,thatsuggeststhatCongressintendedtoprecludejudicialreview.
Indeed,thegovernmentsargumentfromsecrecysuggeststhatCongressdidnot
contemplateasituationinwhichtargetsof215orderswouldbecomeawareof
thoseordersonanythingresemblingthescalethattheynowhave.That
revelation,ofcourse,cametopassonlybecauseofanunprecedentedleakof
classifiedinformation.ThatCongressmaynothaveanticipatedthatindividuals
likeappellants,whosecommunicationsweretargetedby215orders,would
becomeawareoftheorders,andthusbeinapositiontoseekjudicialreview,is
notevidencethatCongressaffirmativelydecidedtorevoketherighttojudicial
reviewotherwiseprovidedbytheAPAintheeventtheorderswerepublicly
revealed.
Thegovernmentsargumentalsoignoresthefactthat,incertain(albeit
limited)instances,thestatutedoesindeedcontemplatedisclosure.Ifajudge
findsthatthereisnoreasontobelievethatdisclosuremayendangerthe
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nationalsecurityoftheUnitedStates,interferewithacriminal,counterterrorism,
orcounterintelligenceinvestigation,interferewithdiplomaticrelations,or
endangerthelifeorphysicalsafetyofanyperson,hemaygrantapetitionto
modifyorsetasideanondisclosureorder.50U.S.C.1861(f)(2)(C)(i).Sucha
petitioncouldpresumablyonlybebroughtbya215orderrecipient,because
onlytherecipient,notthetarget,wouldknowoftheorderbeforesuchdisclosure.
ButthisprovisionindicatesthatCongressdidnotexpectthatall215orders
wouldremainsecretindefinitelyandthat,byprovidingforsuchsecrecy,
Congressdidnotintendtoprecludetargetsof215orders,shouldtheyhappen
tolearnofthem,frombringingsuit.
(2)

StatutoryScheme

ThegovernmentalsoreliesheavilyonBlockinarguingthatthestatutory
schemeasawholeimpliedlyprecludesjudicialreview.InBlock,theSupreme
Courtconsideredwhetherconsumersofmilkcouldobtainjudicialreviewofmilk
marketorders,whichareissuedbytheSecretaryofAgriculturepursuanttothe
AgriculturalMarketingAgreementActof1937(AMAA),codifiedasamended
at7U.S.C.601etseq.Thoseorderssettheminimumpricesthatmilk
processors(alsoknownashandlers)mustpaytomilkproducers.TheCourt
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heldthat,inthecontextofthatstatute,thestatutessilenceastotheabilityof
milkconsumerstochallengemilkmarketorderswassufficienttoimplythat
Congressintendedthattheybeprecludedfromdoingso.467U.S.at347.The
governmentwouldhaveusview215asasimilarlycomplexadministrative
schemethatwouldclearlybedisruptedshouldtargetsoftheordersbepermitted
judicialreviewofthem.
ButtheAMAAandtheCourtsdecisioninBlockaredistinguishablefrom
thiscase.First,theCourtinBlock,andinitsdecisionssinceBlock,hasmade
muchofwhetherastatutehasadministrativereviewrequirementsthatwouldbe
endruniftheAPAprovidedforordinaryjudicialreview.InBlock,forexample,
theCourtnotedthat,foramilkmarketordertobecomeeffective,theAMAA
requiresthat:(1)theSecretaryofAgricultureconductarulemakingproceeding
beforeissuingamilkmarketorder;(2)thepublicbenotifiedoftheproceeding
andgivenanopportunityforcomment;(3)apublichearingbeheld,inwhich
(4)theevidenceofferedshowsthattheorderwillfurtherthestatutespolicy;and
(5)certainpercentagesofmilkhandlersandproducersvoteinfavorofthe
orders.Seeid.at342.

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Suchaschemeisafarcryfromwhatiscontemplatedby215.Section215
containsnoadministrativereviewrequirementsthatwouldbeendrunif
targetsoftheorderswereallowedtoobtainjudicialreviewthereof.Indeed,the
onlyexpressmechanismforanyreviewatallof215ordersisviajudicialreview
albeitbytheFISC,ratherthanafederaldistrictcourt.
UnliketheAMAA,215innowaycontemplatesacooperativeventure
thatprecedestheissuanceoforders.Id.at346.InBlock,theCourtpointedout
thatthestatuteprovidedformilkhandlersandproducersandnotconsumers
toparticipateintheadoptionofthemarketorders.Seeid.Thoseparties,
accordingtotheCourt,weretheoneswhocouldobtainreviewoftheorders,not
theconsumers,whomCongresshadexcludedfromtheentireprocess.Section
215,incontrast,doesnotcontemplateexantecooperationbetween,forexample,
telephonecompaniesandthegovernmentindecidinghowproductionorders
shouldbecraftedandwhethertheyshouldbeapproved.Tothecontrary,under
215,thegovernmentunilaterallycraftsordersthatmaythenbeapprovedornot
bytheFISC.UnlikeinthecaseoftheAMAA,thereisnoindicationthat
Congress,indrafting215,intendedthatthephonecompaniesbetheonlyparty

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entitledtoobtainjudicialreviewoftheordersbyprovidingforthemtootherwise
participateintheorderissuingprocess.
BlockisfurtherdistinguishablebecausetheCourtthereemphasizedthe
factthat[h]andlersha[d]interestssimilartothoseofconsumersandcould
thereforebeexpectedtochallengeunlawfulagencyaction.Id.at352.Here,in
contrast,theinterestsandincentivesoftherecipientsof215ordersarequite
differentfromthoseoftheorderstargets.Asappellantspointout,
telecommunicationscompanieshavelittleincentivetochallenge215orders
first,becausetheyareunlikelytowanttoantagonizethegovernment,and
second,becausethestatuteshieldsthemfromanyliabilityarisingfromtheir
compliancewitha215order.See50U.S.C.1861(e).Anyintereststhatthey
dohavearedistinctfromthoseoftheircustomers.Thetelephoneservice
providersprimaryinterestwouldbetheexpenseorburdenofcomplyingwith
theorders;onlythecustomershaveadirectinterestintheprivacyofinformation
revealedintheirtelephonerecords.
Indeed,courtssinceBlockhaveinterpretedthisfactorwhetherCongress
hasextendedacauseofactiontoapartywhoseinterestsarealignedwiththose
ofapartyseekingtosueascriticaltotheheavilyfactboundBlockdecision.
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TheD.C.CircuithasnotedthatsomediscussioninBlock...sweep[s]broadly
buthasconcludedthat,forexample,theAMAAdoesnotprecludemilkproducers
(asopposedtoconsumers)fromobtainingjudicialreviewofmarketorders,inpart
because[u]nliketheconsumerswhoseinterestswerecoextensivewiththoseof
handlersinBlock,theproducersaretheonlypartywithaninterestinensuring
thatthepricepaidthemisnotreducedbytoolargea[namount]paidto
handlers.Ark.DairyCoop.Assnv.U.S.DeptofAgric.,573F.3d815,823(D.C.
Cir.2009)(internalcitationomitted).Inotherwords,whetherapartywith
alignedinterestscanobtainjudicialreviewisanimportantconsiderationin
interpretingandapplyingBlock.
(3)

LegislativeHistory

Finally,thelegislativehistoryoftheprovisionforchallenging215orders

furthersupportsappellantsargumentthatCongressdidnotintendtopreclude
targetsoftheordersfrombringingsuit.Appellantspointoutthatthe
amendmentto215thatprovidedforjudicialreviewof215ordersintheFISC
waspassedinresponsetoDoev.Ashcroft,334F.Supp.2d471(S.D.N.Y.2004),
vacatedinpartsubnom.Doev.Gonzales,449F.3d415(2dCir.2006).Atthe
sametimeitaddedthejudicialreviewprovisionin215,Congresspasseda
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provisionforjudicialreviewinthecontextofNationalSecurityLetters(NSLs)
aformofadministrativesubpoenasusedtogathercommunicationsand
recordsinnationalsecuritymatters.Thatsubsectionwasaddedtoaddressthe
courtsconcernsinDoethat18U.S.C.2709,pursuanttowhichNSLsareissued,
effectivelybar[red]orsubstantiallydeter[red]anyjudicialchallengetothe
proprietyofanNSLrequest.Doe,334F.Supp.2dat475.Congresssprimary
purposeinadoptingbothoftheseprovisionswasapparentlytoclarifythat
judicialreviewwasavailabletorecipientsofNSLsand215ordersnotto
precludereviewatthebehestofthetargetsoforders.Infact,inDoe,the
governmentarguedthattheNSLstatutealreadyimplicitlyprovidedforjudicial
review.Seeid.at49293.Theamendment,therefore,onlyclarif[ied]thataFISA
215ordermaybechallengedandthatarecipientofa215ordermayconsultwith
thelawyerandtheappropriatepeoplenecessarytorespondtotheorder,H.R.
Rep.No.109174,pt.1,at106(statementofChairmanSensenbrenner)both
concernsraisedbythedistrictcourtinDoewithrespecttoNSLs.The
amendmentwasaclarificationofthejudicialreviewprovisionthatalready
implicitlyexisted;inthusclarifying,itdidnotaffirmativelytakeawayarightto
judicialreviewfromanothercategoryofindividualsnotmentionedinthestatute.
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ThegovernmentarguesthatCongressspecificallyconsidered,and
rejected,anamendmentthatwouldhaveallowedSection215orderstobe
challengednotonlyintheFISC,butalsoindistrictcourt.AppelleesBr.29.But
thatisanoversimplificationofthesequenceofeventsrelatingtoanamendment
proposedbyRepresentativeNadler.First,theproposedamendment
encompassedmorethantheissueofjudicialreview.Theamendmentprimarily
proposedamorerigorousstandardforobtainingordersunder215thanexisted
atthetime,andthebulkofthedebateontheamendmentconcernedwhatdegree
ofsuspicionshouldberequiredforissuanceofa215order.SeeH.R.Rep.No.
109174,pt.1,at12832,135(2005).Second,theamendmentproposedjudicial
reviewinadistrictcourtbytherecipientsof215ordersacategoryofpersons
alreadygrantedanavenueofreviewunder215,throughtheFISCprocess.Id.
at128,134.Itdidnotaddressagain,presumablybecauseCongressdidnot
havereasontoconsiderthequestionatthatpointwhetherapersonwhose
recordswereseizedasaresultofsuchanorderwouldbeable,uponlearningof
theorder,tochallengeitindistrictcourt.Indeed,RepresentativeNadler
specificallynotedthathisamendmentdidnotgrantjudicialreviewatthebehest
ofthetargetofa215orderbecausesuchatargetdoesntknowaboutthe
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order.Seeid.at128(statementofRep.Nadler)(Itdoesntgivethetargetofthe
ordertheabilitytogotocourt.Hedoesntknowaboutit.);id.at134(statement
ofRep.Nadler)([T]hefactisthat...thetargetoftheinvestigationneverhears
aboutthis.).
AsJusticeScaliahasremindedus,moreover,weshouldexercisecautionin
relyingonthistypeoflegislativehistoryinattemptingtodiscernCongresss
intent,becauseitissooftenimpossibletodiscernwhattheMembersof
Congressintendedexcepttotheextentthatintentismanifestedintheonly
remnantofhistorythatbearstheunanimousendorsementofthemajorityin
eachHouse:thetextoftheenrolledbillthatbecamelaw.GrahamCountySoil
&WaterConservationDist.v.UnitedStatesexrel.Wilson,559U.S.280,302
(2010)(Scalia,J.,concurring)(emphasisinoriginal).Congresssrejectionofthe
Nadleramendmentcannotreliablybeinterpretedasaspecificrejectionofthe
opportunityfora215targettoobtainjudicialreview,undertheAPAor
otherwise.
Finally,thegovernmentarguesthatCongressmusthaveintendedto
precludejudicialreviewof215orders,becauseifanycustomerofacompany
thatreceivesa215ordermaychallengesuchanorder,lawsuitscouldbefiled
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byavastnumberofpotentialplaintiffs,thusseverelydisrupt[ing]...the
sensitivefieldofintelligencegatheringforcounterterrorismefforts.Appellees
Br.30(internalquotationmarksomitted).
Thatargument,however,dependsonthegovernmentsargumentonthe
meritsthatbulkmetadatacollectionwascontemplatedbyCongressand
authorizedby215.Theriskofmassivenumbersoflawsuitschallengingthe
sameorders,andthusriskinginconsistentoutcomesandconfusionaboutthe
legalityoftheprogram,occursonlyinconnectionwiththeexistenceoforders
authorizingthecollectionofdatafrommillionsofpeople.Orderstargeting
limitednumbersofpersonsunderinvestigationcouldbechallengedonlybythe
individualstargetedwho,itwasexpected,wouldneverlearnoftheordersin
thefirstplace.Itisonlyinconnectionwiththegovernmentsexpansiveuseof
215(which,aswillbeseenbelow,wasnotcontemplatedbyCongress)that
theseriskswouldcreateconcern.
Inanyevent,restrictingjudicialreviewofthelegalityof215ordersunder
thestatuteitselfwoulddolittletoeliminatethespecterofduplicativelawsuits
challengingordersliketheoneatissuehere.Thegovernmentdoesnotcontend
thatthosewhoserecordsarecollectedpursuantto215,assumingtheyhave
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establishedstanding,aresomehowprecludedfrombringingconstitutional
challengestothoseorders.ThegovernmentwouldthusattributetoCongressa
preclusionofstatutorychallengesthatwouldnoteliminatethesupposeddangers
ofmultiplicativelawsuits,whilechannelingthoselawsuitstowardconstitutional
issues.
Suchanoutcomewouldbeanomalous.Itwouldflyinthefaceofthe
doctrineofconstitutionalavoidance,whichallowscourtstoavoidthedecisionof
constitutionalquestionsbyprovidingatoolforchoosingbetweencompeting
plausibleinterpretationsofastatutorytext,restingonthereasonable
presumptionthatCongressdidnotintendthealternativewhichraisesserious
constitutionaldoubts.Clarkv.Martinez,543U.S.371,381(2005)(emphasisin
original).Incontrast,theapproachprofferedbythegovernmentwouldpreclude
lawsuitschallengingthelegalityof215onstatutorygrounds,whileleaving
openthepathtoreviewof215undertheConstitution.Whileconstitutional
avoidanceisajudicialdoctrine,theprincipleshouldhaveconsiderableappealto
Congress:itwouldseemoddthatCongresswouldprecludechallengesto
executiveactionsthatallegedlyviolateCongresssowncommands,andthereby
channelthecomplaintsofthoseaggrievedbysuchactionsintoconstitutional
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challengesthatthreatenCongresssownauthority.Theremaybeargumentsin
favorofsuchanunlikelyscheme,butitcannotbesaidthatanysuchreasonsare
sopatentandindisputablethatCongresscanbeassumed,inthefaceofthe
strongpresumptioninfavorofAPAreview,tohaveadoptedthemwithout
havingsaidawordaboutthem.
B.

Section2712andImpliedPreclusion

TheotherpotentiallyrelevantexceptiontotheAPAswaiverofsovereign
immunitylookstowhetheranyotherstatutethatgrantsconsenttosuitexpressly
orimpliedlyforbidsthereliefwhichissought.5U.S.C.702(emphasisadded).
Thegovernmenturgesthat18U.S.C.2712,passedinthesamestatutethat
contained215,isjustsuchastatute,grantingasitdoesaprivaterightofaction
formoneydamagesagainsttheUnitedStatesforviolationsoftheWiretapAct,
theStoredCommunicationsAct,andthreeparticularFISAprovisionsthat
concernelectronicsurveillance,physicalsearches,andpenregistersortrapand
tracedevices(butnot215).See18U.S.C.2712(a);seealso50U.S.C.1806(a),
1825(a),1845(a).Section2712withdrewthegeneralrighttosuetheUnitedStates
undertheWiretapActandtheStoredCommunicationsActatthesametimeit
addedarightofactionformoneydamages.Importantly,italsostatedthat
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[a]nyactionagainsttheUnitedStatesunderthissubsectionshallbethe
exclusiveremedyagainsttheUnitedStatesforanyclaimswithinthepurviewof
thissection.18U.S.C.2712(d).Accordingtothegovernment,suchprovisions
demonstratethat,whereCongressdidintendtoallowaprivaterightofactionfor
violationsofFISA,itdidsoexpressly.
Thattheprovisionextendingarightofactionmakesnomentionof215,
however,supportsappellantsargument,notthegovernments.Tobesure,
[w]henCongresshasdealtinparticularitywithaclaimand[has]intendeda
specifiedremedy...tobeexclusive,thatistheendofthematter;theAPAdoes
notundothejudgment.MatchEBeNashSheWishBandofPottawatomi
Indiansv.Patchak,132S.Ct.2199,2205(2012)(secondalterationinoriginal)
(internalquotationmarksomitted).But2712doesnotdealinparticularity
with215.Instead,thegovernmentwouldhaveusconcludethatin
authorizingonepersontobringonekindofsuitseekingoneformofrelief,
Congressbarredanotherpersonfrombringinganotherkindofsuitseeking
anotherformofrelief.Id.at2209.Section2712makesnomentionwhatsoever
ofclaimsunder215,eithertopermitthemortoprecludethem,and,asthe
SupremeCourtstatedinPatchak,[w]ehaveneverheld,andseenocauseto
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holdhere,thatsomegeneralsimilarityofsubjectmattercanalonetriggera
remedialstatutespreclusiveeffect.Id.Theexclusiveremedyprovision
appliesonlytoclaimswithinthepurviewoftheremedialsection,whichdoesnot
coverallofFISAbutratherspecifiesthoseFISAprovisionstowhichitapplies.
HadCongressintended2712sexclusiverightofaction(anditspreclusionof
otherremedies)toextendto215,itisfairtoassumethatitwouldhavealso
enumeratedthatsectionparticularlyconsideringthefactthatbothprovisions
werepassedinthesamestatute.
Section2712,moreover,explicitlywithdrawstherighttochallengethe
specificgovernmentactionstakenunderspecificauthorization,inconnection
withextendinganexplicitcauseofactionformonetarydamagesinconnection
withsuchactions.First,2712showsthattheCongressthatenactedthe
PATRIOTActunderstoodverywellhowtowithdrawtherighttosueunderthe
APA,andtocreateanexclusiveremedy,whenitwishedtodoso.Second,2712
manifestlydoesnotcreateacauseofactionfordamagesforviolationsof215,as
itdoeswithrespecttothosestatutesofwhichitdoesprecludereviewunderthe
APA.

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Section2712,therefore,doesnotprecludeappellantssuithere.Nordothe
twostatutes,whenviewedincombination,evinceanintentofCongressto
precludesuitsbytargetsof215orders.
C.

Summary

Inshort,thegovernmentreliesonbitsandshardsofinapplicablestatutes,
inconclusivelegislativehistory,andinferencesfromsilenceinanefforttofindan
impliedrevocationoftheAPAsauthorizationofchallengestogovernment
actions.Thatisnotenoughtoovercomethestrongpresumptionofthegeneral
commandoftheAPAagainstsuchimpliedpreclusion.Congress,ofcourse,has
theabilitytolimittheremediesavailableundertheAPA;ithasonlytosayso.
Butithassaidnosuchthinghere.Weshouldbecautiousininferringlegislative
actionfromlegislativeinaction,orinferringaCongressionalcommandfrom
Congressionalsilence.Atmost,theevidencecitedbythegovernmentsuggests
thatCongressassumed,inlightoftheexpectationofsecrecy,thatpersonswhose
informationwastargetedbya215orderwouldrarelyevenknowofsuch
orders,andthereforethatjudicialreviewatthebehestofsuchpersonswasanon
issue.Butsuchanassumptionisafarcryfromanunexpressedintentionto

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withdrawrightsgrantedinagenerallyapplicable,explicitstatutesuchasthe
APA.
Accordingly,wedisagreewiththedistrictcourtinsofarasitheldthat
appellantshereareprecludedfrombringingsuitagainstthegovernment,and
holdthatappellantshavearightofactionundertheAPA.Wethereforeproceed
tothemeritsofthecase.
III.

StatutoryAuthorization
Althoughappellantsvigorouslyarguethatthetelephonemetadata

programviolatestheirrightsundertheFourthAmendmenttotheConstitution,
andthereforecannotbeauthorizedbyeithertheExecutiveortheLegislative
Branchofgovernment,orbybothactingtogether,theirinitialargumentisthat
theprogramsimplyhasnotbeenauthorizedbythelegislationonwhichthe
governmentreliesfortheissuanceoftheorderstoserviceproviderstocollect
andturnoverthemetadataatissue.Wenaturallyturnfirsttothatargument.
Section215clearlysweepsbroadlyinanefforttoprovidethegovernment
withessentialtoolstoinvestigateandforestallactsofterrorism.Thestatute
permitsthegovernmenttoapplyforanorderrequiringtheproductionofany
tangiblethings...foraninvestigation...toprotectagainstinternational
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terrorismorclandestineintelligenceactivities.50U.S.C.1861(a)(1)(emphasis
added).A215ordermayrequiretheproductionofanythingthatcanbe
obtainedwithasubpoenaducestecumissuedbyacourtoftheUnitedStatesin
aidofagrandjuryinvestigationoranyothercourtorder.Id.1861(c)(2)(D).
Whilethetypesoftangiblethingssubjecttosuchanorderwouldappear
essentiallyunlimited,suchthingsmayonlybeproduceduponaspecified
factualshowingbythegovernment.Toobtaina215order,thegovernment
mustprovidetheFISCwithastatementoffactsshowingthatthereare
reasonablegroundstobelievethatthetangiblethingssoughtarerelevanttoan
authorizedinvestigation(otherthanathreatassessment)conducted[under
guidelinesapprovedbytheAttorneyGeneral].Id.1861(b)(2)(A);seeid.
1861(a)(2)(requiringthatinvestigationsmakinguseofsuchordersbe
conductedunderguidelinesapprovedbytheAttorneyGeneral).Thebasic
requirementsformetadatacollectionunder215,then,aresimplythatthe
recordsberelevanttoanauthorizedinvestigation(otherthanathreatassessment).
Forallthecomplexityofthestatutoryframework,thepartiesrespective
positionsarerelativelysimpleandstraightforward.Thegovernmentemphasizes
thatrelevanceisanextremelygenerousstandard,particularlyinthecontextof
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thegrandjuryinvestigationstowhichthestatuteanalogizesordersunder215.
Appellantsarguethatrelevanceisnotanunlimitedconcept,andthatthe
governmentsownuse(ornonuse)oftherecordsobtaineddemonstratesthat
mostoftherecordssoughtarenotrelevanttoanyparticularinvestigation;the
governmentdoesnotseektherecords,asisusualinagrandjuryinvestigation,
soastoreviewtheminsearchofevidencebearingonaparticularsubject,but
ratherseekstherecordstocreateavastdatabank,tobekeptinreserveand
queriedifandwhensomeparticularsetofrecordsmightberelevanttoa
particularinvestigation.
Echoingthedistrictcourtsstatementthat[r]elevancehasabroadlegal
meaning,959F.Supp.2dat746,thegovernmentarguesthatthetelephone
metadataprogramcomfortablymeetstherequisitestandard.Thegovernment
likenstherelevancestandardintendedbyCongresstothestandardofrelevance
forgrandjuryandadministrativesubpoenas,and,tosomeextent,forcivil
discovery.
Boththelanguageofthestatuteandthelegislativehistorysupportthe
grandjuryanalogy.Duringthe2006reauthorizationdebate,SenatorKylrecalled
that,inpassingthePATRIOTActshortlyafterSeptember11,Congresshad
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realizedthatitwastimetoapplytoterrorismmanyofthesamekindsof
techniquesinlawenforcementauthoritiesthatwealreadydeemedveryusefulin
investigatingotherkindsofcrimes.Ourideawas,ifitisgoodenoughto
investigatemoneylaunderingordrugdealing,forexample,wesureoughttouse
thosesamekindsoftechniquestofightterrorists.152Cong.Rec.S1607(daily
ed.Mar.2,2006)(statementofSen.Kyl).Healsoremarkedthat[r]elevanceisa
simpleandwellestablishedstandardoflaw.Indeed,itisthestandardfor
obtainingeveryotherkindofsubpoena,includingadministrativesubpoenas,
grandjurysubpoenas,andcivildiscoveryorders.Id.atS1606.Anditiswell
establishedthatwhereCongressborrowstermsofart...,itpresumablyknows
andadoptstheclusterofideasthatwereattachedtoeachborrowedwordinthe
bodyoflearningfromwhichitwastakenandthemeaningitsusewillconveyto
thejudicialmindunlessotherwiseinstructed.Morissettev.UnitedStates,342
U.S.246,250(1952).
Somuch,indeed,seemstousunexceptionable.Inadopting215,
Congressintendedtogivethegovernment,ontheapprovaloftheFISC,broad
ranginginvestigativepowersanalogoustothosetraditionallyusedinconnection
withgrandjuryinvestigationsintopossiblecriminalbehavior.
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Thegovernmentthenpointsoutthat,undertheacceptedstandardof
relevanceinthecontextofgrandjurysubpoenas,courtshaveauthorized
discoveryoflargevolumesofinformationwheretherequesterseekstoidentify
withinthatvolumesmalleramountsofinformationthatcoulddirectlybearon
thematter.AppelleesBr.31.Thegovernmentasksustoconcludethatitis
eminentlyreasonabletobelievethatSection215bulktelephonymetadatais
relevanttocounterterrorisminvestigations.Id.at32.Appellants,however,
disputethatmetadatafromeveryphonecallwithapartyintheUnitedStates,
overaperiodofyearsandyears,canbeconsideredrelevanttoanauthorized
investigation,byanydefinitionoftheterm.
Theverytermsinwhichthislitigationhasbeenconductedbybothsides
suggestthatthematterisnotasroutineasthegovernmentsargumentsuggests.
Normally,thequestionofwhetherrecordsdemandedbyasubpoenaorother
courtorderarerelevanttoaproceedingisraisedinthecontextofamotionto
quashasubpoena.Thegrandjuryundertakestoinvestigateaparticularsubject
mattertodeterminewhetherthereisprobablecausetobelievecrimeshavebeen
committed,andseeksbysubpoenarecordsthatmightcontainevidencethatwill

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helpinmakingthatdetermination.4Giventhewideinvestigativescopeofa
grandjury,thestandardiseasytomeet,butthedeterminationofrelevanceis
constrainedbythesubjectoftheinvestigation.Inresolvingamotiontoquash,a
courtcomparestherecordsdemandedbytheparticularsubpoenawiththe
subjectmatteroftheinvestigation,howeverbroadlydefined.
Here,however,thepartieshavenotundertakentodebatewhetherthe
recordsrequiredbytheordersinquestionarerelevanttoanyparticularinquiry.
Therecordsdemandedareallencompassing;thegovernmentdoesnoteven
suggestthatalloftherecordssought,orevennecessarilyanyofthem,are
relevanttoanyspecificdefinedinquiry.Rather,thepartiesasktheCourtto
decidewhether215authorizesthecreationofahistoricalrepositoryof
informationthatbulkaggregationofthemetadataallows,AppelleesBr.32,
becausebulkcollectiontocreatesucharepositoryisnecessarytotheapplication

Althoughsubpoenasmaybeusedinaidofothercourtproceedings,wetakethe
grandjuryasourexamplebecausethepowersofthegrandjuryareparticularly
wideranging,andthestandardofrelevanceormaterialityofinformationsought
ismuchmorerelaxedthan,forexample,inatrial,wheretoberelevantevidence
musttendtomakeafactofconsequenceindeterminingtheaction,Fed.R.
Evid.401(b),moreorlessprobablethanitwouldbewithouttheevidence,id.
401(a).
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ofcertainanalytictechniques,AppellantsBr.23.Thatisnotthelanguagein
whichgrandjurysubpoenasaretraditionallydiscussed.
Thus,thegovernmenttakesthepositionthatthemetadatacollecteda
vastamountofwhichdoesnotcontaindirectlyrelevantinformation,asthe
governmentconcedesareneverthelessrelevantbecausetheymayallowthe
NSA,atsomeunknowntimeinthefuture,utilizingitsabilitytosiftthroughthe
troveofirrelevantdataithascollecteduptothatpoint,toidentifyinformation
thatisrelevant.5Weagreewithappellantsthatsuchanexpansiveconceptof
relevanceisunprecedentedandunwarranted.
Thestatutestowhichthegovernmentpointshaveneverbeeninterpreted
toauthorizeanythingapproachingthebreadthofthesweepingsurveillanceat
issuehere.6Thegovernmentadmittedbelowthatthecaselawinanalogous

Section215liststhreefactorsthatwouldrenderatangiblethingsought
presumptivelyrelevanttoanauthorizedinvestigation,see50U.S.C.
1861(b)(2)(A),buttherecordsofordinarytelephonecompanycustomersphone
callsdonotfallwithinanyofthosedescriptions.

Arecentlydisclosed,nowdiscontinuedprogramunderwhichtheDrug
EnforcementAdministrationutilizedadministrativesubpoenasobtained
pursuantto21U.S.C.876tocollectandmaintainatelephonemetadata
databasemayhavedemandedaninterpretationapproachingthebreadthofthe
governmentsinterpretationofsimilarlanguagehere.SeeECFNo.159
(AppellantsFed.R.App.P.28(j)letter);ECFNo.161(AppelleesFed.R.App.P.
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contextsd[id]notinvolvedataacquisitiononthescaleofthetelephony
metadatacollection.ACLUv.Clapper,No.13Civ.3994(S.D.N.Y.Aug.26,
2013),ECFNo.33(Mem.ofLawofDefs.inSupp.ofMot.toDismiss)at24.That
concessioniswelltaken.Asnotedabove,iftheorderschallengedbyappellants
donotrequirethecollectionofmetadataregardingeverytelephonecallmadeor
receivedintheUnitedStates(apointassertedbyappellantsandatleast
nominallycontestedbythegovernment),theyappeartocomeveryclosetodoing
so.Thesheervolumeofinformationsoughtisstaggering;whilesearchwarrants
andsubpoenasforbusinessrecordsmayencompasslargevolumesofpaper
documentsorelectronicdata,themostexpansiveofsuchevidentiarydemands
aredwarfedbythevolumeofrecordsobtainedpursuanttotheordersinquestion
here.
Moreover,thedistinctionisnotmerelyoneofquantityhowevervastthe
quantitativedifferencebutalsoofquality.Searchwarrantsanddocument
subpoenastypicallyseektherecordsofaparticularindividualorcorporation

28(j)letter).Thatprogram,which,accordingtobothparties,hasbeen
discontinued,isnotbeingchallengedhere,andwethereforeneednotopineasto
whetherthelanguageofthestatutepursuanttowhichthemetadatawere
collectedauthorizedthatprogram.
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underinvestigation,andcoverparticulartimeperiodswhentheeventsunder
investigationoccurred.Theordersatissueherecontainnosuchlimits.The
metadataconcerningeverytelephonecallmadeorreceivedintheUnitedStates
usingtheservicesoftherecipientserviceprovideraredemanded,foran
indefiniteperiodextendingintothefuture.Therecordsdemandedarenotthose
ofsuspectsunderinvestigation,orofpeopleorbusinessesthathavecontactwith
suchsubjects,orofpeopleorbusinessesthathavecontactwithotherswhoarein
contactwiththesubjectstheyextendtoeveryrecordthatexists,andindeedto
recordsthatdonotyetexist,astheyimposeacontinuingobligationonthe
recipientofthesubpoenatoprovidesuchrecordsonanongoingbasisastheyare
created.Thegovernmentcanpointtonograndjurysubpoenathatisremotely
comparabletotherealtimedatacollectionundertakenunderthisprogram.
Nevertheless,thegovernmentemphasizesthepermissivestandards
appliedtosubpoenas,notingthat,atleastinthecontextofgrandjurysubpoenas,
motionstoquashonrelevancygroundsaredeniedunlessthedistrictcourt
determinesthatthereisnoreasonablepossibilitythatthecategoryofmaterials
theGovernmentseekswillproduceinformationrelevanttothegeneralsubjectof
thegrandjurysinvestigation.UnitedStatesv.R.Enters.,Inc.,498U.S.292,301
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(1991).Thatisbecausesuchsubpoenasarecustomarilyemployedtogather
informationandmakeitavailabletotheinvestigativeteamofagentsand
prosecutorssothatitcanbedigestedandsiftedforpertinentmatterandare
thereforeoftendrawnbroadly,sweepingupbothdocumentsthatmayprove
decisiveanddocumentsthatturnoutnottobe.UnitedStatesv.Triumph
CapitalGrp.,544F.3d149,168(2dCir.2008).
Inthatvein,thegovernmentpointstocasesinwhichcourtshaveupheld
subpoenasforbroadcategoriesofinformationandforlargescalecollection[]of
information.AppelleesBr.33(internalquotationmarksomitted).Forexample,
inInreGrandJuryProceedings:SubpoenasDucesTecum,827F.2d301(8thCir.
1987),theEighthCircuitdeniedWesternUnionsmotiontoquashasubpoena
thatrequestedproductionbyWesternUnionsprimarywireserviceagentin
KansasCityofallmoneyorderapplicationsforamountsover$1,000overamore
thantwoyearperiod,andofareportsummarizingallwiretransactionsit
conductedoveranapproximateoneyearperiod.DespiteWesternUnions
argumentthatthesubpoenawouldsweepinrecordsinvolvinghundredsof
innocentpeople,thecourtstatedthatgrandjuriesarenotnecessarilyprohibited
fromengagingindragnetoperation[s].Id.at305(internalquotationmarks
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omitted).InInreSubpoenaDucesTecum,228F.3d341(4thCir.2000),the
FourthCircuitalsodeniedamotiontoquashasubpoenaissuedtoadoctor
requiringproductionof,interalia,allpatientrecordsanddocumentation
concerningpatientswhoseserviceswerebilledtoMedicare,Medicaid,anda
numberofinsurancecompanies,includingthepatientscompletemedicalfiles,
theirbillingrecords,officeappointmentbooks,signinsheets,andtelephone
messages,overaperiodofatleastsevenyears.Thatcourtheldthatthe
subpoenadidnotsweeptoobroadly,despitethehighvolumeofdocumentsit
demanded,inpartbecauseofthescopeofthefraudbeinginvestigatedandthe
sizeofthedoctorspractice.Id.at35051;seealsoOkla.PressPublgCo.v.
Walling,327U.S.186,209(1946)([R]elevancyandadequacyorexcessinthe
breadthofthesubpoenaaremattersvariableinrelationtothenature,purposes
andscopeoftheinquiry.).
Butbroadasthosesubpoenaswere,thecasescitedbythegovernmentonly
highlightthedifferencebetweentheinvestigativedemandsatissueinthosecases
andtheonesatissuehere.Bothofthoseexamples,andallexamplesofwhichwe
areaware,areboundedeitherbythefactsoftheinvestigationorbyafinitetime
limitation.Thetelephonemetadataprogramrequiresthatthephonecompanies
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turnoverrecordsonanongoingdailybasiswithnoforeseeableendpoint,no
requirementofrelevancetoanyparticularsetoffacts,andnolimitationsasto
subjectmatterorindividualscovered.7EvenintheEighthCircuitcasethatthe
governmentcites,moreover,althoughitupheldthesubpoenaatissue,theEighth
Circuitsuggestedthatthedistrictcourtconsidertheextenttowhichthe
governmentwouldbeabletoidentifyinadvance...patternsorcharacteristics
thatwouldraisesuspicion...designedtofocusonillegalactivitywithouttaking
inanunnecessaryamountofirrelevantmaterial.InreGrandJuryProceedings:
SubpoenasDucesTecum,827F.2dat30506.Courtshavetypicallylookedto
constrainevengrandjurysubpoenastoastandardofreasonablenessrelatedtoa
definedinvestigativescope;wehavefoundexcessivelybroadasubpoena
requiringproductionofallofanaccountantsfileswithinamerethreefiling
7

Drawingananalogyagaintothecontextofadministrativesubpoenas,wenote
toothatcourtsaremorereluctanttoenforcesubpoenaswhenagencieshave
soughtrecordsofthirdpartieswhowerenottargetsoftheagencys
investigation.InreMcVane,44F.3d1127,1137(2dCir.1995).The
overwhelmingbulkofthemetadatacollectedbythetelephonemetadata
program,asthegovernmentitselfconcedes,concernsthirdpartiesinthatsense
ofthewordindividualswhoarenottargetsofaninvestigationorsuspectedof
engaginginanycrimewhatsoever,andwhoarenotevensuspectedofhaving
anycontactswithanysuchtargetsorsuspects.Theirrecordsaresoughtsolelyto
buildarepositoryforthefutureapplicationoftheinvestigativetechniquesupon
whichtheprogramrelies.
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cabinets,withoutanyattempttodefineclassesofpotentiallyrelevant
documentsoranylimitationsastosubjectmatterortimeperiod,becauseit
sweptinpapersthattherewasnoreasontobelievewererelevant.Inre
Horowitz,482F.2d72,79(2dCir.1973).Wethereforelimitedthesubpoenas
timeperiodabsentthegovernmentsmakingaminimalshowingofrelevance.
Id.at7980.
Totheextentthat215wasintendedtogivethegovernment,asSenator
Kylproposed,thesamekindsoftechniquestofightterroriststhatithas
availabletofightordinarycrimessuchasmoneylaunderingordrugdealing,
152Cong.Rec.S1607(dailyed.Mar.2,2006)(statementofSen.Kyl),theanalogy
isnothelpfultothegovernmentspositionhere.Thetechniquestraditionally
usedtocombatsuchordinarycrimeshavenotincludedthecollection,viagrand
jurysubpoena,ofavasttroveofrecordsofmetadataconcerningthefinancial
transactionsortelephonecallsofordinaryAmericanstobeheldinreserveina
databank,tobesearchedifandwhenatsomehypotheticalfuturetimethe
recordsmightbecomerelevanttoacriminalinvestigation.
Thegovernmentsemphasisonthepotentialbreadthoftheterm
relevant,moreover,ignoresotherportionsofthetextof215.Relevance
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doesnotexistintheabstract;somethingisrelevantornotinrelationtoa
particularsubject.Thus,anitemrelevanttoagrandjuryinvestigationmaynot
berelevantattrial.Inkeepingwiththisusage,215doesnotpermitan
investigativedemandforanyinformationrelevanttofightingthewaronterror,
oranythingrelevanttowhateverthegovernmentmightwanttoknow.It
permitsdemandsfordocumentsrelevanttoanauthorizedinvestigation.The
governmenthasnotattemptedtoidentifytowhatparticularauthorized
investigationthebulkmetadataofvirtuallyallAmericansphonecallsare
relevant.Throughoutitsbriefing,thegovernmentreferstotherecordscollected
underthetelephonemetadataprogramasrelevanttocounterterrorism
investigations,withoutidentifyinganyspecificinvestigationstowhichsuch
bulkcollectionisrelevant.See,e.g.,AppelleesBr.32,33,34.8TheFISCorders,
too,referonlytoauthorizedinvestigations(otherthanthreatassessments)being

Whilethegovernmentpurportstohaveprovidedexamplesofspecific
counterterrorisminvestigations,seeAppelleesBr.33,citingJointAppx25455,
thoseexamplesserveonlyasinstancesinwhichthemetadataalreadycollectedin
bulkwereabletobequeriedandresultedinidentificationofapreviously
unknowncontactofknownterrorists.Thegovernmentdoesnotcontendthat
mostofthemetadataalreadycollectedwererelevanttoanyofthoseparticular
investigations,letalonethatitwasabletosodemonstratepriortothecollection
ofthosemetadata.
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conductedbytheFBI...toprotectagainstinternationalterrorism,see,e.g.,2006
PrimaryOrderat2;JointAppx127,317,merelyechoingthelanguageofthe
statute.ThePCLOBreportexplainsthatthegovernmentspracticeistolistin
215applicationsmultipleterroristorganizations,andtodeclarethattherecords
beingsoughtarerelevanttotheinvestigationsofallofthosegroups.PCLOB
Report59.Asthereportputsit,thatpracticeislittledifferent,inpracticalterms,
fromsimplydeclaringthattheyarerelevanttocounterterrorismingeneral....
Atitscore,theapproachboilsdowntothepropositionthatessentiallyall
telephonerecordsarerelevanttoessentiallyallinternationalterrorism
investigations.Id.at5960.Putanotherway,thegovernmenteffectivelyargues
thatthereisonlyoneenormousantiterrorisminvestigation,andthatany
recordsthatmighteverbeofuseindevelopinganyaspectofthatinvestigation
arerelevanttotheoverallcounterterrorismeffort.
Thegovernmentsapproachessentiallyreadstheauthorized
investigationlanguageoutofthestatute.Indeed,thegovernments
informationgatheringunderthetelephonemetadataprogramisinconsistent
withtheveryconceptofaninvestigation.Toinvestigatesomething,
accordingtotheOxfordEnglishDictionary,is[t]osearchorinquireinto;to
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examine(amatter)systematicallyorindetail;tomakeaninquiryorexamination
into.98OxfordEnglishDictionary47(2ded.2001).Section215slanguagethus
contemplatesthespecificityofaparticularinvestigationnotthegeneral
counterterrorismintelligenceeffortsoftheUnitedStatesgovernment.Butthe
recordsinquestionherearenotsought,atleastinthefirstinstance,becausethe
governmentplanstoexaminetheminconnectionwithasystematic
examinationofanythingatall;therecordsaresimplystoredandkeptinreserve
untilsuchtimeassomeparticularinvestigation,inthesenseinwhichthatword
istraditionallyusedinconnectionwithlegislative,administrative,orcriminal
inquiries,isundertaken.Onlyatthatpointareanyofthestoredrecords
examined.Therecordssoughtarenotevenassertedtoberelevanttoanyon
goingsystematicexaminationofanyparticularsuspect,incident,orgroup;
theyarerelevant,inthegovernmentsview,becausetheremightatsomefuture
pointbeaneedordesiretosearchtheminconnectionwithahypotheticalfuture
inquiry.

Thenounforminvestigationissimilarlydefinedas[t]heactionof
investigating;themakingofasearchorinquiry;systematicexamination;careful
andminuteresearch.8OxfordEnglishDictionary47(2ded.2001).
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Thegovernmentsapproachalsoreadsoutofthestatuteanotherimportant
textuallimitationonitspowerunder215.Section215permitsanorderto
producerecordstoissuewhenthegovernmentshowsthattherecordsare
relevanttoanauthorizedinvestigation(otherthanathreatassessment).50U.S.C.
1861(b)(2)(A)(emphasisadded).Thelegislativehistorytellsuslittleornothing
aboutthemeaningofthreatassessment.TheAttorneyGeneralsGuidelines
forDomesticFBIOperations,however,tellussomewhatmore.TheGuidelines
dividethecategoryofinvestigationsandintelligencegatheringintothree
subclasses:assessments,predicatedinvestigations(bothpreliminaryandfull),
andenterpriseinvestigations.SeeAttorneyGeneralsGuidelinesforDomestic
FBIOperations1618(2008),
https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/invprg1211appg1.pdf.
Assessmentsaredistinguishedfrominvestigationsinthattheymaybeinitiated
withoutanyfactualpredication.Id.at17.TheGuidelinescitetheobjectiveof
preventingthecommissionofterroristactsagainstthenationasanexampleofa
properassessmentobjective,statingthattheFBImustproactivelydrawon
availablesourcesofinformationtoidentifyterroristthreatsandactivities.Id.
Themethodsusedinassessmentsaregenerallythoseofrelativelylow
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intrusiveness,suchasobtainingpubliclyavailableinformation,checking
governmentrecords,andrequestinginformationfrommembersofthepublic.
Id.at1718.Becauseofthatlowlevelofintrusiveness,theGuidelinesdonot
requiresupervisoryapprovalforassessments,althoughFBIpolicymayrequireit
inparticularcases,dependingontheassessmentspurposeandthemethods
beingused.Id.at18.
TheFBIDomesticInvestigationsandOperationsGuideelaboratesonthis
scheme.Ittooprovidesthatthreatassessmentsdonotrequireaparticular
factualpredicationbutdorequireanauthorizedpurposeandclearlydefined
objective(s).Assessmentsmaybecarriedouttodetect,obtaininformationabout,
orpreventorprotectagainstFederalcrimesorthreatstothenationalsecurityor
tocollectforeignintelligence.FBIDomesticInvestigationsandOperations
Guide5.1(2011),
http://vault.fbi.gov/FBI%20Domestic%20Investigations%20and%20Operations%2
0Guide%20%28DIOG%29/fbidomesticinvestigationsandoperationsguidediog
2011version/fbidomesticinvestigationsandoperationsguidediogoctober15
2011part01of03/view.Althoughnospecificfactualpredicateisrequired,the

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Guidemakesclearthatassessmentscannotbebasedonarbitraryorgroundless
speculation.Id.Itadds:
Although difficult to define, no particular factual
predication is less than information or allegation as
requiredfortheinitiationofapreliminaryinvestigation
(PI). For example, an Assessment may be conducted
when:(i)thereisreasontocollectinformationorfactsto
determinewhetherthereisacriminalornationalsecurity
threat; and (ii) there is a rational and articulable
relationshipbetweenthestatedauthorizedpurposeofthe
Assessmentontheonehandandtheinformationsought
andtheproposedmeanstoobtainthatinformationonthe
other.
Id.
Inlimitingtheuseof215toinvestigationsratherthanthreat
assessments,then,Congressclearlymeanttoprevent215ordersfrombeing
issuedwheretheFBI,withoutanyparticular,definedinformationthatwould
permittheinitiationofevenapreliminaryinvestigation,soughttoconductan
inquiryinordertoidentifyapotentialthreatinadvance.Thetelephone
metadataprogram,however,andtheorderssoughtinfurtheranceofit,areeven
moreremotefromaconcreteinvestigationthanthethreatassessmentsthat
howeverimportanttheyundoubtedlyareinmaintaininganalertnesstopossible
threatstonationalsecurityCongressfoundnottowarranttheuseof215
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orders.Afterall,whenconductingathreatassessment,FBIagentsmusthave
bothareasontoconducttheinquiryandanarticulableconnectionbetweenthe
particularinquirybeingmadeandtheinformationbeingsought.Thetelephone
metadataprogram,bycontrast,seekstocompiledatainadvanceoftheneedto
conductanyinquiry(oreventoexaminethedata),andisbasedonnoevidence
ofanycurrentconnectionbetweenthedatabeingsoughtandanyexisting
inquiry.
WeagreewiththePCLOB,whichconcludedthatthegovernments
rationalefortherelevanceofthebulkcollectionoftelephonemetadata
underminestheprohibitiononusing215ordersforthreatassessments:
[Section215]providesthatrecordscannotbeobtainedfor
a threat assessment, meaning those FBI investigatory
activities that do not require a particular factual
predicate. By excluding threat assessments from the
typesofinvestigationsthatcanjustifyanorder,Congress
directedthatSection215notbeusedtofacilitatethebroad
andcomparativelyuntetheredinvestigatoryprobingthat
ischaracteristicofsuchassessments.Butbycollectingthe
nations calling records en masse, under an expansive
theory of their relevance to multiple investigations, the
NSAs program undercuts one of the functions of the
threatassessmentexclusion:ensuringthatrecordsare
notacquiredbythegovernmentwithoutsomereasonto
suspectaconnectionbetweenthoserecordsandaspecific,
predicated terrorism investigation. While the rules
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governingtheprogramlimittheuseoftelephonerecords
tosearchesthatarepromptedbyaspecificinvestigation,
the relevance requirement in Section 215 restricts the
acquisitionofrecordsbythegovernment.
PCLOBReport60(emphasesinoriginal)(footnoteomitted).10
Theinterpretationurgedbythegovernmentwouldrequireadrastic
expansionofthetermrelevance,notonlywithrespectto215,butalsoasthat
termisconstruedforpurposesofsubpoenas,andofanumberofnational
securityrelatedstatutes,tosweepfurtherthanthosestatuteshaveeverbeen
thoughttoreach.Forexample,thesamelanguageisusedin
18U.S.C.2709(b)(1)and20U.S.C.1232g(j)(1)(A),whichauthorize,
respectively,thecompelledproductionoftelephonetollbillingandeducational
recordsrelevanttoauthorizedinvestigationsrelatedtoterrorism.Thereisno
10

Thegovernmentalsoarguesthat,asidefromtheirrelevancetothesubject
matterofcounterterrorism,thetelephonemetadatarecordsarerelevantto
authorizedinvestigationsinthattheyarenecessaryforthegovernmenttoapply
certaininvestigativetechniqueshere,searchingbasedonselectorsthrough
thegovernmentsmetadatarepository.Thatargumentprovestoomuch.If
informationcanbedeemedrelevantsolelybecauseofitsnecessitytoaparticular
processthatthegovernmenthaschosentoemploy,regardlessofitssubject
matter,thensolongasthegovernmentdevelopsaneffectivemeansofsearching
througheverythinginordertofindsomething,...everythingbecomesrelevantto
itsinvestigationsandthegovernmentstechnologicalcapacitytoingest
informationandsiftthroughitefficientlywouldbetheonlylimittowhatis
relevant.PCLOBReport62(emphasesinoriginal).
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evidencethatCongressintendedforthosestatutestoauthorizethebulk
collectionofeveryAmericanstollbillingoreducationalrecordsandtoaggregate
themintoadatabaseyetitusednearlyidenticallanguageindraftingthemto
thatusedin215.Theinterpretationthatthegovernmentasksustoadoptdefies
anylimitingprinciple.Thesamerationalethatitproffersfortherelevanceof
telephonemetadatacannotbecabinedtosuchdata,andappliesequallywellto
othersetsofrecords.Ifthegovernmentiscorrect,itcoulduse215tocollectand
storeinbulkanyotherexistingmetadataavailableanywhereintheprivate
sector,includingmetadataassociatedwithfinancialrecords,medicalrecords,
andelectroniccommunications(includingemailandsocialmediainformation)
relatingtoallAmericans.
Suchexpansivedevelopmentofgovernmentrepositoriesofformerly
privaterecordswouldbeanunprecedentedcontractionoftheprivacy
expectationsofallAmericans.Perhapssuchacontractionisrequiredbynational
securityneedsinthefaceofthedangersofcontemporarydomesticand
internationalterrorism.Butwewouldexpectsuchamomentousdecisiontobe
precededbysubstantialdebate,andexpressedinunmistakablelanguage.There
isnoevidenceofsuchadebateinthelegislativehistoryof215,andthe
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languageofthestatute,onitsface,isnotnaturallyreadaspermitting
investigativeagencies,ontheapprovaloftheFISC,todoanymorethanobtain
thesortsofinformationroutinelyacquiredinthecourseofcriminal
investigationsofmoneylaundering[and]drugdealing.
Weconcludethattoallowthegovernmenttocollectphonerecordsonly
becausetheymaybecomerelevanttoapossibleauthorizedinvestigationinthe
futurefailseventhepermissiverelevancetest.Justasthegrandjurys
subpoenapowerisnotunlimited,UnitedStatesv.Calandra,414U.S.338,346
(1974),215spowercannotbeinterpretedinawaythatdefiesanymeaningful
limit.Putanotherway,weagreewithappellantsthatthegovernments
argumentisirreconcilablewiththestatutesplaintext.AppellantsBr.26.
Suchamonumentalshiftinourapproachtocombatingterrorismrequiresa
clearersignalfromCongressthanarecyclingofoftusedlanguagelongheldin
similarcontextstomeansomethingfarnarrower.Congress...doesnotalter
thefundamentaldetailsofaregulatoryschemeinvaguetermsorancillary
provisionsitdoesnot...hideelephantsinmouseholes.Whitmanv.Am.
TruckingAssns.,531U.S.457,468(2001).Thelanguageof215isdecidedlytoo
ordinaryforwhatthegovernmentwouldhaveusbelieveissuchan
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extraordinarydeparturefromanyacceptedunderstandingofthetermrelevant
toanauthorizedinvestigation.
Finally,asitdidwithrespecttothequestionofjudicialreview,the
governmentagainresortstotheclaimthatifCongressdidnotexplicitlyadoptthe
ruleforwhichitargues,itdidsoimplicitly.Here,thegovernmentarguesthat
CongresshasratifiedtheFISCsinterpretationof215,andthusthetelephone
metadataprogram,byreauthorizing215in2010and2011.Werejectthat
argument.
First,thetheoryofcongressionalratificationofjudicialinterpretationsofa
statutebyreenactmentcannotovercometheplainmeaningofastatute.Where
thelawisplain,subsequentreenactmentdoesnotconstituteanadoptionofa
previousadministrativeconstruction.Demarestv.Manspeaker,498U.S.184,
603(1991).
Second,althoughCongressispresumedtobeawareofanadministrative
orjudicialinterpretationofastatuteandtoadoptthatinterpretationwhenitre
enactsastatutewithoutchange,Lorillardv.Pons,434U.S.575,580(1978),there
arelimitstothatpresumptionparticularlywhere,ashere,knowledgeofthe
programwasintentionallykepttoaminimum,bothwithinCongressandamong
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thepublic.Wehavesaidthat,atleastinthecaseofanadministrative
interpretationofastatute,forthedoctrineoflegislativeratificationtoapply,we
mustfirstascertainwhetherCongresshasspokenclearlyenoughtoconstitute
acceptanceandapprovalofanadministrativeinterpretation.Merereenactment
isinsufficient.Isaacsv.Bowen,865F.2d468,473(2dCir.1989).InAtkinsv.
Parker,theSupremeCourtappliedthedoctrineoflegislativeratificationwhere
Congresswas...wellawareof,andlegislatedonthebasis
of,...contemporaneousadministrativepractice,concludingthatittherefore
mustbepresumedtohaveintendedtomaintainthatpracticeabsentsomeclear
indicationtothecontrary.472U.S.115,140(1985).Incontrast,inasituationin
whichthere[wa]snothingtoindicatethat[theinterpretationofaregulation]
wasevercalledtotheattentionofCongress,andthestatutesreenactmentwas
notaccompaniedbyanycongressionaldiscussionwhichthrowslightonits
intendedscope,theCourthasconsider[ed]the...reenactmenttobewithout
significance.UnitedStatesv.Calamaro,354U.S.351,359(1957);seealso
Commrv.GlenshawGlassCo.,348U.S.426,431(1955)(Reenactment[ofa
statute]particularlywithouttheslightestaffirmativeindicationthatCongress
everhad[aparticular]decisionbeforeitisanunreliableindiciumatbest.).
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Third,astheaboveprecedentssuggest,thepublicnatureofan
interpretationplaysanimportantroleinapplyingthedoctrineoflegislative
ratification.TheSupremeCourthasstatedthat[w]hereanagencysstatutory
constructionhasbeenfullybroughttotheattentionofthepublicandthe
Congress,andthelatterhasnotsoughttoalterthatinterpretationalthoughithas
amendedthestatuteinotherrespects,thenpresumablythelegislativeintenthas
beencorrectlydiscerned.NorthHavenBd.ofEduc.v.Bell,456U.S.512,535
(1982)(internalquotationmarksomitted);seealsoUnitedStatesv.Chestman,947
F.2d551,560(2dCir.1991).Congressionalinactionisalreadyatenuousbasis
uponwhichtoinfermuchatall,evenwhereacourtsoragencysinterpretation
isfullyaccessibletothepublicandtoallmembersofCongress,whocandiscuss
anddebatethematteramongthemselvesandwiththeirconstituents.Buthere,
farfromtheordinarilypubliclyaccessiblejudicialoradministrativeopinionsthat
thepresumptioncontemplates,noFISCopinionsauthorizingtheprogramwere
madepublicpriorto2013wellafterthetwooccasionsofreauthorizationupon
whichthegovernmentrelies,anddespitethefactthattheFISCfirstauthorized
theprogramin2006.

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Congresscannotreasonablybesaidtohaveratifiedaprogramofwhich
manymembersofCongressandallmembersofthepublicwerenotaware.In
2010,theSenateandHouseIntelligenceCommitteesrequestedthattheExecutive
BranchprovideallmembersofCongressaccesstoinformationaboutthe
programbeforethereauthorizationvote.Inresponse,theExecutiveBranch
providedtheIntelligenceCommitteechairswithaclassifiedpaperonthe
program,whichwasthenmadeavailabletomembersofCongress.That
availability,however,waslimitedinanumberofways.First,thebriefingpapers
couldonlybeviewedinsecurelocations,foralimitedtimeperiodandundera
numberofrestrictions.SeeJointAppx148165.Thegovernmentdoesnot
disputeappellantsassertionthatmembersofCongresscouldnotbringstaffwith
themwhentheywenttoreadthebriefingpapers,nordiscusstheprogramwith
theirstaff.And,ofcourse,nopublicdebateontheprogramtookplace.In2011,
briefingpaperswerealsoprovidedtotheIntelligenceCommittees,butonlythe
SenateCommitteesharedthepaperswithothermembersofthatbodywhowere
notcommitteemembers.TheHouseIntelligenceCommitteedidnotsharethe
papersatallwithnonmembers,leavingthenoncommitteeRepresentativesin

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thedarkastotheprogram.Seegenerallyid.at17073;seealsoClapper,959F.
Supp.2dat745.
Tobesure,thegovernmentiscorrectthatwhetheraparticular
interpretationwaslegislativelyratifiedordinarilyshouldnotdependonthe
numberoflegislatorswithactualknowledgeofthegovernments
interpretation.AppelleesBr.36.Wedonotinsist,intheordinarycase,on
evidencethatmembersofCongressactuallyreadandunderstoodadministrative
orjudicialdecisionsinterpretingastatutetoapplythedoctrineofratification.
Butthisisfarfromtheordinarycase.Intheordinarycaseinwhichweapplythe
Lorillardpresumption,theadministrativeorjudicialinterpretationarguedto
havebeenratifiedbyCongresswasavailabletothepublicinpublishedsources.
Concernedcitizensandinterestgroupshadeveryopportunitytobring
interpretationsthattheybelievedwereincorrectorundesirabletotheattentionof
theirrepresentativesintheHouseandSenate,andtolobbyforlegislation
rejectingthoseinterpretations.TotheextentthatsomemembersofCongress
wereunawareofthedetailsofthoseinterpretations,theirignoranceitselfvery
likelyreflectedtheabsenceofanyparticularcontroversysurroundingthem.

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Insharpcontrast,thetelephonemetadataprogramwas(for
understandablereasons)shroudedinthesecrecyapplicabletoclassified
information,andonlyalimitedsubsetofmembersofCongresshada
comprehensiveunderstandingoftheprogramorofitspurportedlegalbases.
TherewascertainlynoopportunityforbroaddiscussionintheCongressor
amongthepublicofwhethertheFISCsinterpretationof215wascorrect.11
Findingthegovernmentsinterpretationofthestatutetohavebeenlegislatively
ratifiedunderthesecircumstanceswouldignorereality.Practicallyspeaking,it
isafarstretchtosaythatCongresswasawareoftheFISCslegalinterpretationof
215whenitreauthorizedthestatutein2010and2011.Wethereforecannot
accepttheargumentthatCongress,byreauthorizing215withoutchangein
2010and2011,therebylegislativelyratifiedtheinterpretationof215urgedby
thegovernment.Thewidespreadcontroversythatdeveloped,inandoutof
Congress,uponthepublicdisclosureoftheprogrammakesclearthatthisisnota

11

Indeed,thediscrepancybetweentheconclusionwereachhereinandthat
reachedbytheFISCmay,atleastinpart,beaccountedforbyourhaving
receivedthebenefitofanadversarialpresentationoftheissues.Seepostatpp.6,
11(Sack,J.,concurring).
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situationinwhichCongressquietlybutknowinglyadoptedtheFISCs
interpretationof215becausetherewasnorealoppositiontothatinterpretation.
Foralloftheabovereasons,weholdthatthetextof215cannotbearthe
weightthegovernmentasksustoassigntoit,andthatitdoesnotauthorizethe
telephonemetadataprogram.Wedosocomfortablyinthefullunderstanding
thatifCongresschoosestoauthorizesuchafarreachingandunprecedented
program,ithaseveryopportunitytodoso,andtodosounambiguously.Until
suchtimeasitdoesso,however,wedeclinetodeviatefromwidelyaccepted
interpretationsofwellestablishedlegalstandards.Wethereforedisagreewith
thedistrictcourtinsofarasitheldthatappellantsstatutoryclaimsfailedonthe
merits,andvacateitsjudgmentdismissingthecomplaint.
IV.

ConstitutionalClaims
Inadditiontoarguingthatthetelephonemetadataprogramisnot

authorizedby215,appellantsarguethat,eveniftheprogramisauthorizedby
statute,itviolatestheirrightsundertheFourthandFirstAmendmentstothe

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Constitution.TheFourthAmendmentclaim,inparticular,presentspotentially
vexingissues.12
Appellantscontendthattheseizurefromtheirtelephoneserviceproviders,
andeventualsearch,ofrecordsofthemetadatarelatingtotheirtelephone
communicationsviolatestheirexpectationsofprivacyundertheFourth
Amendmentintheabsenceofasearchwarrantbasedonprobablecauseto
believethatevidenceofcriminalconductwillbefoundintherecords.The
governmentrespondsthatthewarrantandprobablecauserequirementsofthe
FourthAmendmentarenotimplicatedbecauseappellantshavenoprivacyrights
intherecords.ThisdisputetouchesanissueonwhichtheSupremeCourts
jurisprudenceisinsometurmoil.

12

Forthatreason,wediscussinfrasomeoftheFourthAmendmentconcernsthat
theprogramimplicates.AstotheFirstAmendmentissues,appellantsarguethat
theprograminfringestheirFirstAmendmentassociationalprivacyandfree
speechrights,substantiallyimpair[ing]thoserightsbyexpos[ing]their
telephonicassociationstogovernmentmonitoringandscrutiny.AppellantsBr.
53.Theycontendthattheprogrammustthereforesurviveexactingscrutiny.
Id.at58.Thegovernmentresponds,astothemeritsofappellantsFirst
Amendmentclaim,thatanysuchburdensaremerelyincidental.Appellees
Br.54.Asnotedinfra,becausewefindthatthetelephonemetadataprogram
exceedstheboundsofwhatisauthorizedby215,weneednotreacheither
constitutionalissue,andweseenoreasontodiscusstheFirstAmendmentclaims
ingreaterdepth.
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InKatzv.UnitedStates,389U.S.347(1967),theSupremeCourtdeparted
fromthepropertybasedapproachtotheFourthAmendmentthathadgoverned
sinceOlmsteadv.UnitedStates,277U.S.438(1928),whichdependedupon
whetheranactualphysicaltrespassofpropertyhadoccurred.Asexplainedin
JusticeHarlansconcurringopinion,theCourtheldinKatzthatasearchoccurs
whereapersonha[s]exhibitedanactual(subjective)expectationofprivacy,
and...theexpectation[is]onethatsocietyispreparedtorecognizeas
reasonable.389U.S.at361(Harlan,J.,concurring).
TheSupremeCourthasalsolongheld,however,thatindividualshaveno
legitimateexpectationofprivacyininformation[they]voluntarilyturn[]overto
thirdparties.Smithv.Maryland,442U.S.735,74344(1979);see,e.g.,California
v.Greenwood,486U.S.35(1988)(noobjectivelyreasonableexpectationof
privacyingarbageexposedtothepublicbybeingplacedonasidewalk);United
Statesv.Miller,425U.S.435(1976)(nolegitimateexpectationofprivacyinbank
records).InSmithv.Maryland,theCourtappliedthatdoctrinetoupholdthe
constitutionalityofinstallingapenregisteratatelephonecompanysofficethat
recordedthenumbersdialedfromacriminalsuspectshometelephone.442U.S.
at737,74546.TheCourtheldthattheinstallationofthepenregisterwasnota
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searchforFourthAmendmentpurposesbecause,byplacingcalls,individuals
exposethetelephonenumberstheydialtothetelephonecompanyandtherefore
assume[]theriskthatthecompany[may]revealtopolicethe
numbers...dialed.Id.at744.Similarly,ithaslongbeencommonplacefor
grandjuriestosubpoenaanindividualstelephonerecordsfromtheindividuals
telephoneserviceprovider,intheabsenceofprobablecauseorawarrantissued
byajudge.Theacquisitionofsuchrecords,ithasbeenheld,implicatesno
legitimateprivacyinterestofthesubscriber,becausetherecordsarenothisor
hersalone.See,e.g.,id.at74244;Miller,425U.S.at443;Couchv.UnitedStates,
409U.S.322,33436(1973).Thesubscribercannotreasonablybelievethatthe
recordsareprivate,becauseheorshehasvoluntarilyexposedtheinformation
containedinthemtothetelephonecompany,whichusesthemforitsown
businesspurposeofbillingthesubscriber.
Thegovernmentargues,andthedistrictcourtheld,thatthisdoctrine
requiresrejectionofappellantsclaimthattheacquisitionoftelephonemetadata
(asopposedtothecontentsofcommunications)violatestheFourthAmendment,
orevenimplicatesitsprotectionsatall.Appellantsrespondthatmodern

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technologyrequiresrevisitationoftheunderpinningsofthethirdpartyrecords
doctrineasappliedtotelephonemetadata.
AppellantsargumentinvokesoneofthemostdifficultissuesinFourth
Amendmentjurisprudence:theextenttowhichmoderntechnologyaltersour
traditionalexpectationsofprivacy.Ontheonehand,theverynotionofan
individualsexpectationofprivacy,consideredinKatzakeycomponentofthe
rightsprotectedbytheFourthAmendment,mayseemquaintinaworldinwhich
technologymakesitpossibleforindividualsandbusinesses(tosaynothingofthe
government)toobserveactsofindividualsonceregardedasprotectedfrom
publicview.Ontheotherhand,rulesthatpermitthegovernmenttoobtain
recordsandotherinformationthatconsumershavesharedwithbusinesses
withoutawarrantseemmuchmorethreateningastheextentofsuchinformation
grows.
AppellantspointtotheSupremeCourtsdecisioninUnitedStatesv.Jones,
132S.Ct.945(2012),asexemplifyingthekindofchallengetoapparently
establishedlawthattheyseektobring.Jonesdoesnotaddresstelephoneor
otherbusinessrecords,butaroseinthesomewhatanalogouscontextofphysical
surveillance.PriortoJones,inUnitedStatesv.Knotts,460U.S.276(1983),ina
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rulingbasedinsubstantialpartonthecorenotionthatanindividualhasno
expectationofprivacyinwhatheexposestotheeyesofthirdparties,theCourt
heldthatapersonhasnoexpectationofprivacyinhispublicmovements,
becausehevoluntarilyconvey[s]toanyonewhowant[s]tolookthefactthathe
[i]stravelingonparticularroadsinaparticulardirection,thefactofwhatever
stopshema[kes],andthefactofhisfinaldestination.Id.at28182.TheCourt
thereforeruledthat,justaspoliceagentsmayfollowasuspectinpublicwithout
awarrantorprobablecause,thegovernmentsuseofabeepertofollowasuspect
withoutawarrantwasconstitutional;thebeepermerelyaugment[ed]the
officersnormalsensoryfaculties,butdidnothingthatanindividualotherwise
monitoringthesuspectcouldnotdowithoutit.Id.at282.TheCourtnoted,
however,inresponsetoconcernaboutthepotentialfortwentyfourhour
surveillancewithoutjudicialsupervision,thatif...dragnettypelaw
enforcementpractices...shouldeventuallyoccur,therewillbetimeenough
thentodeterminewhetherdifferentconstitutionalprinciplesmaybeapplicable.
Id.at284.
Thatopportunitycamedecadeslater,inJones.Inthatcase,the
governmenthadtrackedanindividualslocationoverthecourseof28daysusing
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aGPStrackingdeviceithadattachedtohisvehiclewithoutfirstobtaininga
warrant.132S.Ct.at948.TheD.C.Circuitheldthat,becauseanindividualdoes
notexposehislocationtothepublicoverthecourseofanentiremonth,either
actuallyorconstructively,theproperframeworkfromwhichtoanalyzethe
operationwasnotavariationonthethirdpartydoctrinebutinsteadKatzs
reasonableexpectationofprivacystandard.UnitedStatesv.Maynard,615F.3d
544,55563(D.C.Cir.2010),affdonothergroundssubnom.Jones,132S.Ct.945.
Itheldthatthedefendantsexpectationofprivacyhadbeenviolated,becausethe
longtermsurveillancerevealedamosaicofinformationinwhichindividuals
hadprivacyinterests,evenintheabsenceofaprivacyinterestindiscretepieces
ofsuchinformation.Id.at56263.
TheSupremeCourtaffirmedtheD.C.Circuitsopinion,butondifferent
grounds.ItheldthattheoperationwasasearchentitledtoFourthAmendment
protectionbecausetheattachmentoftheGPSdeviceconstitutedatechnical
trespassonthedefendantsvehicle.Jones,132S.Ct.at94953.TheCourts
majorityopiniondeclinedtoreachtheissueofwhethertheoperationwouldhave
passedKatzsreasonablenesstest,id.at954,orwhetherthethirdparty
doctrineinsteadapplied,id.at952.
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Asappellantsnote,however,fiveoftheJusticesappearedtosuggestthat
theremightbeaFourthAmendmentviolationevenwithoutthetechnical
trespassuponwhichthemajorityopinionrelied.FouroftheJusticesarguedthat
theCourtshouldhaveappliedtheKatzreasonablenesstest,andthatthe
surveillancewouldnotsurvivethattest.Id.at95758,964(Alito,J.,concurring).
JusticeSotomayornotedinanotherconcurringopinionthatthemajority
opinionstrespassorytestmayprovidelittleguidanceforcertainmodernday
surveillancetechniques,forwhichphysicaltrespassisoftennotnecessary.Id.at
955(Sotomayor,J.,concurring).Consequently,sheobservedthatitmaybe
necessarytoreconsiderthepremisethatanindividualhasnoreasonable
expectationofprivacyininformationvoluntarilydisclosedtothirdparties,
notingthatsuchanapproachisillsuitedtothedigitalage,inwhichpeople
revealagreatdealofinformationaboutthemselvestothirdpartiesinthecourse
ofcarryingoutmundanetasks.Id.at957.
Appellantsarguethatthetelephonemetadataprogramprovidesan
archetypalexampleofthekindoftechnologicallyadvancedsurveillance
techniquesthat,theycontend,requirearevisionofthethirdpartyrecords
doctrine.Metadatatoday,asappliedtoindividualtelephonesubscribers,
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particularlywithrelationtomobilephoneservicesandwhencollectedonan
ongoingbasiswithrespecttoallofanindividualscalls(andnotmerely,asin
traditionalcriminalinvestigations,foralimitedperiodconnectedtothe
investigationofaparticularcrime),permitsomethingakintothe24hour
surveillancethatworriedsomeoftheCourtinJones.Moreover,thebulk
collectionofdataastoessentiallytheentirepopulationoftheUnitedStates,
somethinginconceivablebeforetheadventofhighspeedcomputers,permitsthe
developmentofagovernmentdatabasewithapotentialforinvasionsofprivacy
unimaginableinthepast.Thus,appellantsargue,theprogramcannotsimplybe
sustainedonthereasoningthatpermitsthegovernmenttoobtain,foralimited
periodoftimeasappliedtopersonssuspectedofwrongdoing,asimplerecordof
thephonenumberscontainedintheirserviceprovidersbillingrecords.
Becauseweconcludethatthechallengedprogramwasnotauthorizedby
thestatuteonwhichthegovernmentbasesitsclaimoflegalauthority,weneed
notanddonotreachtheseweightyconstitutionalissues.Theseriousnessofthe
constitutionalconcerns,however,hassomebearingonwhatweholdtoday,and
ontheconsequencesofthatholding.

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WenotefirstthatwhetherCongresshasconsideredandauthorizeda
programsuchasthisoneisnotirrelevanttoitsconstitutionality.The
endorsementoftheLegislativeBranchofgovernmentprovidessomedegreeof
comfortinthefaceofconcernsaboutthereasonablenessofthegovernments
assertionsofthenecessityofthedatacollection.Congressisbetterpositioned
thanthecourtstounderstandandbalancetheintricaciesandcompetingconcerns
involvedinprotectingournationalsecurity,andtopassjudgmentonthevalue
ofthetelephonemetadataprogramasacounterterrorismtool.Moreover,the
legislativeprocesshasconsiderableadvantagesindevelopingknowledgeabout
thefarreachingtechnologicaladvancesthatrendertodayssurveillancemethods
drasticallydifferentfromwhathasexistedinthepast,andinunderstandingthe
consequencesofaworldinwhichindividualscanbarelyfunctionwithout
involuntarilycreatingmetadatathatcanrevealagreatdealofinformationabout
them.Acongressionaljudgmentastowhatisreasonableundercurrent
circumstanceswouldcarryweightatleastwithus,and,weassume,withthe
SupremeCourtaswellinassessingwhethertheavailabilityofinformationto
telephonecompanies,banks,internetserviceproviders,andthelike,andthe
abilityofthegovernmenttocollectandprocessvolumesofsuchdatathatwould
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previouslyhaveoverwhelmeditscapacitytomakeuseoftheinformation,
renderobsoletethethirdpartyrecordsdoctrineor,conversely,reduceour
expectationsofprivacyandmakemoreintrusivetechniquesbothexpectedand
necessarytodealwithnewkindsofthreats.
Finally,wearenotunmindfulthatafulldebatebyCongressofthe
appropriatenessofaprogramsuchasthatnowoperatedbythegovernmentmay
resultintheapprovalofaprogramwithgreatersafeguardsforprivacy,orwith
otherlimitations,thatarenotnowinplaceandthatcouldalterorevenmootthe
issuespresentedbyappellants.13InthelastCongress,forexample,abillto
authorizeamodifiedversionofthetelephonemetadataprogram,supportedby
theAdministration,passedtheHouseofRepresentatives;asimilarbillfailedin
theSenateafteramajorityofsenatorsbutnottherequired60tocutoffdebate
soughttobringthebilltoavote.SeeUSAFREEDOMAct,H.R.3361,113th
Cong.(2014);USAFREEDOMAct,S.2685,113thCong.(2014).Asnotedabove,
morerecently,onApril30,2015,amodifiedversionoftheUSAFREEDOMAct,
whichwouldlimitthebulkmetadataprograminvariousways,waspassedby
13

Wenotethat,atoralargument,appellantscounselindicatedthattheadoption
ofcertainmeasureswouldleadatleasttheseappellantstowithdrawtheir
constitutionalchallenges.
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theHouseJudiciaryCommittee,seeUSAFREEDOMActof2015,H.R.2048,
114thCong.(2015),andavoteinthatChamberisexpectedlaterthismonth.An
identicalbillhasbeenintroducedintheSenateandreferredtotheSenate
JudiciaryCommittee.SeeUSAFREEDOMActof2015,S.1123,114thCong.
(2015).
Wereiteratethat,justaswedonothereaddresstheconstitutionalityofthe
programasitcurrentlyexists,wedonotpurporttoexpressanyviewonthe
constitutionalityofanyalternativeversionoftheprogram.Theconstitutional
issues,however,aresufficientlydauntingtoremindusoftheprimaryrolethat
shouldbeplayedbyourelectedrepresentativesindeciding,explicitlyandafter
fulldebate,whethersuchprogramsareappropriateandnecessary.Ideally,such
issuesshouldberesolvedbythecourtsonlyaftersuchdebate,withduerespect
foranyconclusionsreachedbythecoordinatebranchesofgovernment.
V.

PreliminaryInjunction
Finally,weconsiderthedistrictcourtsdenialofappellantsmotionfora

preliminaryinjunction.Apartyseekingapreliminaryinjunctionmusteither
showthatheislikelytosucceedonthemerits;thatheislikelytosuffer
irreparableharmintheabsenceofpreliminaryrelief;thatthebalanceofequities
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tipsinhisfavor;andthataninjunctionisinthepublicinterest,Winterv.NRDC,
555U.S.7,20(2008);orhemayshowirreparableharmandeitheralikelihoodof
successonthemeritsorsufficientlyseriousquestionsgoingtothemeritsto
makethemafairgroundforlitigationandabalanceofhardshipstipping
decidedlytowardthepartyrequestingthepreliminaryrelief,Christian
LouboutinS.A.v.YvesSaintLaurentAm.Holdings,Inc.,696F.3d206,215(2d
Cir.2012)(internalquotationmarksomitted).
Here,asisclearfromouranalysisabove,thedistrictcourterredincertain
respectsonseveralissuesoflawcriticaltodecidingthelegalityofthe
governmentsprogram.Onacorrectviewofthoseissues,appellantshaveshown
alikelihoodindeed,acertaintyofsuccessonthemeritsofatleasttheir
statutoryclaims.Appellantsarguethat,becausetheyhaveallegedadeprivation
ofconstitutionalrights,weshouldpresumeirreparableharm,andthatthe
balanceofequitiestipsintheirfavor,becausethegovernmentdoesnothaveany
legitimateinterestinconductingunlawfulsurveillance.
Atleastatthispoint,however,wedeclinetoconcludethatapreliminary
injunctionisrequired,andleaveittothedistrictcourttoreconsider,inthefirst
instance,theproprietyofpreliminaryreliefinlightofacorrectunderstandingof
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thegoverninglaw.Wenotethatatthepresenttime,215isscheduledtoexpire
injustseveralweeks.Thegovernmentvigorouslycontendsthattheprogramis
necessaryformaintainingnationalsecurity,whichofcourseisapublicinterestof
thehighestorder.Allowingtheprogramtoremaininplaceforafewweeks
whileCongressdecideswhetherandunderwhatconditionsitshouldcontinueis
alesserintrusiononappellantsprivacythantheyfacedatthetimethislitigation
began.Inlightoftheassertednationalsecurityinterestsatstake,wedeemit
prudenttopausetoallowanopportunityfordebateinCongressthatmay(or
maynot)profoundlyalterthelegallandscape.
Moreover,giventhenecessityofcongressionalaction,thestatutoryissues
onwhichwerestourdecisioncouldbecomemoot(atleastasfarasthefutureof
thetelephonemetadataprogramisconcerned),andtheconstitutionalissues
appellantscontinuetopressradicallyaltered,byeventsthatwilloccurinashort
timeframe.IfCongressdecidestoauthorizethecollectionofthedatadesiredby
thegovernmentunderconditionsidenticaltothosenowinplace,theprogram
willcontinueinthefutureunderthatauthorization.Therewillbetimethento
addressappellantsconstitutionalissues,whichmaybesignificantlyalteredby
thefindingsmade,andconclusionsreached,bythepoliticalbranches,andto
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decidewhatifanyreliefappellantsareentitledtobasedonourfindingthatthe
programasithasoperatedtodateisunlawful.IfCongressdecidestoinstitutea
substantiallymodifiedprogram,theconstitutionalissueswillcertainlydiffer
considerablyfromthosecurrentlyraised.IfCongressfailstoreauthorize215
itself,orreenacts215withoutexpandingittoauthorizethetelephonemetadata
program,therewillbenoneedforprospectiverelief,sincetheprogramwillend,
andonceagaintherewillbetimetoaddresswhatifanyreliefisrequiredin
termsofthedataalreadyacquiredbythegovernment.Webelievethatsuch
issueswillbebestaddressedinthefirstinstancebythedistrictcourtindue
course.
CONCLUSION
Thiscaseservesasanexampleoftheincreasingcomplexityofbalancing
theparamountinterestinprotectingthesecurityofournationajobinwhich,as
thePresidenthasstated,actionsaresecondguessed,successisunreported,and
failurecanbecatastrophic,RemarksbythePresidentonReviewofSignals
Intelligencewiththeprivacyinterestsofitscitizensinaworldwhere
surveillancecapabilitiesarevastandwhereitisdifficultifnotimpossibleto
avoidexposingawealthofinformationaboutoneselftothosesurveillance
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Case
Case14-42,
14-42,Document
Document168-1,
170, 05/07/2015,
05/07/2015,1503607,
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mechanisms.Reconcilingtheclashofthesevaluesrequiresproductive
contributionfromallthreebranchesofgovernment,eachofwhichisuniquely
suitedtothetaskinitsownway.
Fortheforegoingreasons,weconcludethatthedistrictcourterredin
rulingthat215authorizesthetelephonemetadatacollectionprogram,and
insteadholdthatthetelephonemetadataprogramexceedsthescopeofwhat
Congresshasauthorizedandthereforeviolates215.Accordingly,weVACATE
thedistrictcourtsjudgmentdismissingthecomplaintandREMANDthecaseto
thedistrictcourtforfurtherproceedingsconsistentwiththisopinion.

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