In October 2016, we filed a motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, asking it to unseal and release its opinions and orders containing “novel or significant interpretations of law” that were issued between September 11, 2001, and June 2, 2015, which was the effective date of the USA FREEDOM Act, which directed the court to release those of its opinions and orders meeting that description issued after that date.  Our position on the matter is that the release of post-9/11 FISA decisions is crucial for a meaningful democratic debate. 

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied our motion on the ground that it had no jurisdiction to consider it, and when we appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, that court held that it didn’t even have jurisdiction to consider our appeal. In April 2020, we filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, arguing that all federal courts have inherent power to release their own opinions and asking the Court to tell the lower courts to consider our motion.

On November 1, 2021, the Supreme Court denied our petition, without comment. Justice Gorsuch dissented, joined by Justice Sotomayor. Summarizing his dissent, he said, “If these matters are not worthy of our time, what is?”

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic, Abrams Institute, Yale Law School

Date filed

October 18, 2016