First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, CV 13-3287 (N.D. Cal. filed July 16th, 2013)The EFF filed this action on behalf of twenty-two organizations, including Unitarian church groups, gun ownership advocates, and a broad coalition of membership and political advocacy organizations, claiming that the NSA’s collection of telephony metadata violates their First and Fourth Amendments rights and their Fifth Amendment rights to substantive and procedural due process. The Complaint further alleges that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize the telephony metadata program. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the telephony metadata program violates their Constitutional and statutory rights and injunctions against the continued operation of the program and for the return and destruction of records obtained under the program.

On July 24, 2013, Judge Jeffrey S. White of the federal district court for the Northern District of California issued an order finding that First Unitarian Church was related to the Jewel case, which was already under his supervision, and that he would therefore assume supervision of First Unitarian Church as well. (Jewel is discussed in a separate post).

On September 10, 2013, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint.  In 2014, there was litigation before both the FISC and the district court for the Northern District of California, over whether, for purposes of discovery in First Unitarian Church and the Jewel and Shubert cases, the Government had an obligation to preserve metadata that it had collected under the telephony metadata program and retained for more than five years.(see  our post, “Preserving Metadata for Civil Litigation.”

The First Unitarian Church case is being heavily litigated, and the court documents are available at

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