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IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2013 CONTACT: ACLU/SC, Vicki Fox, 213.977.5227 ACLU/SC will argue before Ninth Circuit Court: Sanctions for government lying should be upheld Fines against the government for lying to a court should be upheld, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU/SC) will argue before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today.

The Ninth Circuit will hear argument today in the federal governments appeal of an order imposing sanctions against the FBI in a landmark 2011 ruling in Islamic Shura Council v. FBI. Federal district judge Cormac Carney found that the government lied about the existence of numerous documents regarding the FBIs surveillance of Muslim community leaders in southern California. The government then appealed the sanctions order to the Ninth Circuit. It is hard to imagine any practice more corrosive to our democratic system than governmentsanctioned lying to the very courts entrusted with the power to prevent government abuse., said ACLU/SC Deputy Legal Director Ahilan Arulanantham. We are disappointed that the Obama Administration continues to defend this practice, and hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will agree that it must be stopped. The ACLU/SC filed Islamic Shura Council v. FBI to compel the government to disclose information regarding the FBIs surveillance of several prominent, law-abiding members of the southern California Muslim community. The FBI repeatedly spied on Muslim leaders and organizations including the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California, and several of their leaders according to documents released in the case. But the government intentionally told the court and the plaintiffs that it had turned over all of the requested surveillance information despite the fact that it had not. When the governments lies came to light, it argued that it needed to lie, alleging that merely disclosing that it possessed certain information, even to the court, would have endangered national security. In response, the court imposed sanctions. Courts have authority to sanction parties for making intentional false statements.

The governments position that it can even lie to the courts about the existence of documents would dramatically undermine the Freedom of Information Act, which provides courts with authority to determine whether the government must disclose information under its provisions. Professors from 11 leading law schools filed an amicus brief urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold the sanctions, stressing the importance of truthfulness in the justice system. ###

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