Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)

Amici Curiae for FISC Announced

By Cody M. Poplin
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 2:37 PM

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has released the names of the first five Amici Curiae that will serve the Court as part of reforms enacted under the USA Freedom Act. The list, effective November 25th, 2015, can be found below: 

  • Jonathan G. Cedarbaum, Partner, Law Firm of Wilmerhale (Washington, D.C. office)
  • John D. Cline, Office of John D. Cline, Law Office of John D. Cline (San Francisco)
  • Laura Donohue, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law
  • Amy Jeffress, Partner, Law Firm of Arnold & Porter (Washington, D.C. office)
  • Marc Zwillinger, Managing member, ZwillGen PLLC (Washington, D.C.)

The role of the Amici Curiae is outlined in 50 U.S.C. § 1803(i)(1)

(i) Amicus curiae

(1) Designation

The presiding judges of the courts established under subsections (a) and (b) shall, not later than 180 days after June 2, 2015, jointly designate not fewer than 5 individuals to be eligible to serve as amicus curiae, who shall serve pursuant to rules the presiding judges may establish. In designating such individuals, the presiding judges may consider individuals recommended by any source, including members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the judges determine appropriate.

 

(2)Authorization A court established under subsection (a) or (b), consistent with the requirement of subsection (c) and any other statutory requirement that the court act expeditiously or within a stated time—

(A) shall appoint an individual who has been designated under paragraph (1) to serve as amicus curiae to assist such court in the consideration of any application for an order or review that, in the opinion of the court, presents a novel or significant interpretation of the law, unless the court issues a finding that such appointment is not appropriate; and
(B) may appoint an individual or organization to serve as amicus curiae, including to provide technical expertise, in any instance as such court deems appropriate or, upon motion, permit an individual or organization leave to file an amicus curiae brief.
 

(3) Qualifications of amicus curiae

(A) Expertise
Individuals designated under paragraph (1) shall be persons who possess expertise in privacy and civil liberties, intelligence collection, communications technology, or any other area that may lend legal or technical expertise to a court established under subsection (a) or (b).
(B) Security clearance
Individuals designated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be persons who are determined to be eligible for access to classified information necessary to participate in matters before the courts. Amicus curiae appointed by the court pursuant to paragraph (2) shall be persons who are determined to be eligible for access to classified information, if such access is necessary to participate in the matters in which they may be appointed. 
 

(4) Duties If a court established under subsection (a) or (b) appoints an amicus curiae under paragraph (2)(A), the amicus curiae shall provide to the court, as appropriate—

(A) legal arguments that advance the protection of individual privacy and civil liberties;
(B) information related to intelligence collection or communications technology; or
(C) legal arguments or information regarding any other area relevant to the issue presented to the court.
 

(5) Assistance

An amicus curiae appointed under paragraph (2)(A) may request that the court designate or appoint additional amici curiae pursuant to paragraph (1) or paragraph (2), to be available to assist the amicus curiae.

(6) Access to information

(A) In general If a court established under subsection (a) or (b) appoints an amicus curiae under paragraph (2), the amicus curiae—
(i) shall have access to any legal precedent, application, certification, petition, motion, or such other materials that the court determines are relevant to the duties of the amicus curiae; and
(ii) may, if the court determines that it is relevant to the duties of the amicus curiae, consult with any other individuals designated pursuant to paragraph (1) regarding information relevant to any assigned proceeding.
 
(B) Briefings
The Attorney General may periodically brief or provide relevant materials to individuals designated pursuant to paragraph (1) regarding constructions and interpretations of this chapter and legal, technological, and other issues related to actions authorized by this chapter.
 
(C) Classified information
An amicus curiae designated or appointed by the court may have access to classified documents, information, and other materials or proceedings only if that individual is eligible for access to classified information and to the extent consistent with the national security of the United States.
 
(D) Rule of construction
Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the Government to provide information to an amicus curiae appointed by the court that is privileged from disclosure.
 

(7) Notification

A presiding judge of a court established under subsection (a) or (b) shall notify the Attorney General of each exercise of the authority to appoint an individual to serve as amicus curiae under paragraph (2).

(8) Assistance

A court established under subsection (a) or (b) may request and receive (including on a nonreimbursable basis) the assistance of the executive branch in the implementation of this subsection.

(9) Administration

A court established under subsection (a) or (b) may provide for the designation, appointment, removal, training, or other support for an individual designated to serve as amicus curiae under paragraph (1) or appointed to serve as amicus curiae under paragraph (2) in a manner that is not inconsistent with this subsection.

(10) Receipt of information

Nothing in this subsection shall limit the ability of a court established under subsection (a) or (b) to request or receive information or materials from, or otherwise communicate with, the Government or amicus curiae appointed under paragraph (2) on an ex parte basis, nor limit any special or heightened obligation in any ex parte communication or proceeding.