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Doe v. Ashcroft (Doe I)

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
334 F. Supp. 2d 471 (2004)


Facts

Federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 2709, enacted by Congress as part of the Electronic Communications Act of 1986 (ECPA), Pub. L. No. 99-508, § 201, authorizes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to order internet service providers (ISPs) or telephone companies to produce customer records whenever the FBI asserts that the documents are “relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” These demands are made in the form of secret subpoenas called national security letters (NSLs). Section 2709 forbids all NSL recipients from ever disclosing that the FBI issued such a subpoena. John Doe (plaintiff) was an Internet access firm that received an NSL from the FBI, directing it to provide a number of requested records in person. Doe did not comply and instead brought suit challenging the constitutionality of § 2709.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Marrero, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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