Legal Feature


Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Wikimedia Foundation et al. v. NSA



May 25, 2017

Ruling that the existence of the government’s mass internet surveillance program would violate the First and Fourth Amendments, a federal appeals court has given the green light to a lawsuit challenging the government’s domestic and international spying program. The lawsuit—brought by a coalition of educational, legal, human rights and media organizations, including The Rutherford Institute, the ACLU, the Wikipedia Foundation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers—was dismissed by a federal district court in Maryland, which ruled that the groups do not have standing to sue the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. Department of Justice and their directors. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling in part, reinstating the lawsuit with Wikimedia as a party. A dissenting opinion filed in the case argued that all the plaintiffs have standing and should be allowed to proceed as parties to the lawsuit.