Terkel v. AT&T

Update 8-31-11: ACLU of Illinois is in the 9th Court of Appeals in Seattle this week for an appeal in Terkel v. AT&T. Learn More.

The RBF/ACLU of Illinois represents the estate of the late author Studs Terkel, Dr. Quentin Young, attorney James Montgomery, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, Professor Diane Geraghty and Rabbi Gary Gerson in challenging telephone giant AT&T in sharing customers’ telephone records with the government without lawful authorization.

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In 2006, our case – along with similar lawsuits against telecomm companies filed in courts across the nation – was consolidated as multi-jurisdictional litigation and transferred to the federal district court in San Francisco. The RBF/ACLU of Illinois, along with lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was appointed co-lead coordinating counsel for more than thirty-five cases including our own. For several years, in addition to litigating the case in court, we spent substantial time lobbying Congress to oppose granting immunity from suit to the telecommunications’ companies. Still, a law allowing the assertion of an immunity defense was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.

In October 2008, the government filed a motion to dismiss the suits pursuant to the new immunity law. Later that month, we filed – with EFF – a response to the motion challenging the constitutionality of the law. In June 2009, the district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss. We have appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The matter is now fully briefed and we anticipate an oral argument before the Court next year.