EPIC asks U.S. Supreme Court to Vacate FISA Court Surveillance Order


Cell TowerThe Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed for a writ of mandamus and prohibition in the Supreme Court of the United States yesterday, asking them to vacate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s Order requiring production of phone records for domestic customers of Verizon.

In the petition, the questions presented are (1) Whether the FISC exceeded its statutory authority under 50 USC §1861 to authorize foreign surveillance when it ordered Verizon to produce records for wholly domestic communications and (2) Whether EPIC is entitled to relief under 28 USC §1651(a) to vacate the order by the FISC.

28 USC §1651 is known as the All Writs Act, and it authorizes the Supreme Court to issue extraordinary writs in its discretion. EPIC argues that an extraordinary writ is appropriate because (1) the FISC exceeded its statutory authority in granting the order and (2) No other court may grant relief, due to the secretive, ex-parte nature of the FISC orders and opinions.

EPIC argues that they have been harmed by the Order because they are a customer of Verizon, and their communications may have been gathered as part of it. EPIC is engaged in litigation against several federal agencies, including the DOJ, FBI, and NSA, and secret review of their records compromises attorney client privilege and exposes work product and communications with legislators covered under deliberative process.

More information on FISC opinions.

NY Times Coverage here.

ARS Technica coverage here.

Updated: Justia Verdict coverage here.