Klayman v. Obama, No. 14-5004 (D.C. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit contending that the government's "bulk data program" collection constitutes an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment. The program operates pursuant to the USA PATRIOT Act, Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272, where section 215 of the Act empowered the FBI to request, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to enter, orders “requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism.” The district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the government from collecting plaintiffs’ call records, but stayed its order pending appeal. After the court determined that the case was not moot, Judge Brown and Judge Williams wrote separate opinions stating the reasons for reversal. Judge Brown wrote separately to emphasize that, while plaintiffs have demonstrated it is only possible - not substantially likely - that their own call records were collected as part of the bulk-telephony metadata program, plaintiffs have nonetheless met the bare requirements of standing. Having barely fulfilled the requirements for standing at this threshold stage, plaintiffs fall short of meeting the higher burden of proof required for a preliminary injunction. Judge Williams wrote that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a “substantial likelihood” that the government is collecting from Verizon Wireless or that they are otherwise suffering any cognizable injury. They thus cannot meet their burden to show a “likelihood of success on the merits” and are not entitled to a preliminary injunction.