[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday filed a motion in support of Verizon's petition to consolidate over 20 cases in which the company must defend allegations that it illegally shared customer phone records with the National Security Agency in conjunction with the NSA's domestic spying program [JURIST news archive]. The DOJ motion invokes national security and efficiency concerns in support of its request that the cases be consolidated into one civil action before the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website]. The government has previously said it will seek to dismiss the 20 lawsuits [JURIST report] after they are consolidated on the grounds that continuing the lawsuits may reveal military and state secrets.
Verizon petitioned the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) [official website] in May to consolidate 20 nationally coordinated complaints [JURIST report] brought by the ACLU in fourteen different district courts challenging Verizon's participation in the NSA program. Verizon and BellSouth [JURIST, AP reports] have denied last month's USA Today report accusing them of turning customer phone records over to the NSA [JURIST report], while AT&T has refused to comment. Along with supporting Verizon's bid to consolidate the 20 ACLU cases, the government also requested that the JPML consolidate four other cases against the government with the Verizon litigation. Reuters has more.