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Warshak v. United States

532 F.3d 521 (en banc) (6th Cir. 2008), 490 F.3d 455 (2007)

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Warshak v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

532 F.3d 521 (en banc) (6th Cir. 2008), 490 F.3d 455 (2007)

Facts

Steven Warshak (plaintiff) was under investigation by the United States government (defendant). The government obtained a court order directing Warshak’s Internet service provider to turn over information relating to Warshak’s email account. The order was issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703, part of the Stored Communications Act (SCA). Warshak sued, claiming that the order violated his Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches. The government argued that the court order was not a search but rather a compelled disclosure. Thus, according to the government, the showing of probable cause required by the Fourth Amendment was inapplicable. Instead, the government argued that it only needed to show reasonable relevance under the SCA. The government also argued that Internet service providers have a contractual right to access users’ emails that eliminates any legitimate expectation of privacy in the contents of email messages.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Martin, J.)

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