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Law School Case Brief

Klayman v. NSA - 280 F. Supp. 3d 39 (D.D.C. 2017)


It is well established that a case must be dismissed as moot if new legislation addressing the matter in dispute is enacted while the case is still pending.


Plaintiffs, Larry Klayman and others, who were all subscribers, customers, or users of certain telecommunications and Internet service providers, filed two-related actions challenging the constitutionality and statutory authorization of' certain intelligence-gathering practices of the United States Government. First, plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, which authorized the Government to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for an order requiring the “production of any tangible things for an investigation to protect against," among other things, "international terrorism." Moreover, plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the surveillance scheme conducted pursuant to Foreign Intelligence Security Act’s (FISA) pen-trap provision, and to the Targeted PRISM Collection of Communications Content under FISA Section 702. During the pendency of the case, however, U.S. Congress enacted the USA FREEDOM Act, which prohibited the Government from obtaining telephony metadata in bulk. Defendant national agencies, National Security Agency (NSA), the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), President Barack Obama and others, filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that the issues were mooted by the susequent legislation.


Were the issues raised by the plaintiffs mooted with the enactment of the USA FREEDOM Act?




The federal district court held that the subsequent enactment of the USA FREEDOM Act, which prohibited the Government’s challenged conduct rendered the case moot, as such, the court, lost its jurisdiction to try the case. According to the court, regardless of whether a plaintiff had standing to sue when he initially filed his complaint, the doctrine of mootness barred a federal court from adjudicating that claim if events have so transpired that the court's decision will neither presently affect the parties' rights nor have a more-than-speculative chance of affecting them in the future.

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