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Matthew F. Kennelly (born October 6, 1956) is a federal district court judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He gained widespread attention when he presiding over the case of ACLU v. AT&T in 2006 [1], "a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on behalf of author Studs Terkel and other activists who said their constitutional rights were violated because of an NSA program of gathering phone company records." See NSA Wiretapping.

The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities.

Judge Kennelly ruled that Terkel and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit did not show that their particular records were seen by the government; therefore, they had no standing in suing the government.



Kennelly was born in 1956 in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1978 and Harvard Law School in 1981. He was appointed as a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

Professional career

  • Private practice, Chicago, IL, 1981-1982
  • Law clerk, Hon. Prentice Marshall, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 1982-1984
  • Private practice, Chicago, IL, 1984-1999

Federal judicial service

  • Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • Nominated by William J. Clinton on January 26, 1999, to a seat vacated by Paul E. Plunkett; Confirmed by the United States Senate on April 15, 1999, and received his commission on April 22, 1999.




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