The ACLU of Illinois represented 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’s sharing of customers’ telephone records with the government without lawful authorization.
In 2006, our case and other similar lawsuits against telecomm companies filed in courts across the nation were consolidated as multi-jurisdictional litigation and transferred to the federal district court in San Francisco. Lawyers for the ACLU of Illinois and the Electronic Frontier Foundation were appointed co-lead coordinating counsel for more than 35 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 to the telecommunications’ companies. Still, a law allowing the assertion of an immunity defense was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush.
In October 2008, the government filed a motion to dismiss the suits based on to the new immunity law. Later that month, we and the EFF responded to that motion arguing that the grant of immunity was unconstitutional. In June 2009, the district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss. We appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately lost.