In a landmark ruling, the United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal filed by RTI activist Dick Cheney, saying his petition should be allowed to proceed to the next step.
The high court ruling came after the Justice Department sued Cheney and other campaigners for their right to seek government information, arguing that they had a “fair and just” right to request information.
The petition is expected to be heard in the fall, when a federal appeals court is expected make a ruling.
The US government is seeking access to the email records of US officials, including President Donald Trump, as well as records of millions of emails that US citizens sent or received from Russia.
In a brief filing with the high court, Cheney argued that the US government’s request for information is a “frivolous infringement” of his right to a free and unfettered “right to know”.
“Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to address the serious privacy concerns raised by electronic communications,” Cheney wrote.
“It is also a matter of public concern that the federal government has violated the law by seeking, obtaining, and using the information in question.”
The US Justice Department, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the White House, said the request for email records is “not likely to be successful”.
“This is not a case about a purely personal issue.
It is a case with national security implications, including potential misuse of the communications of the president,” the Justice department said in a statement.
The Justice Department had argued that Cheney’s right to privacy is “well established” under the US constitution and that the email request violates the US Constitution’s Free Speech Clause.
“The information sought relates to an act of war by the United State, and is therefore not entitled to First Amendment protection,” the DOJ wrote.
Cheney was first arrested by the US Secret Service in 2011 after he refused to hand over his BlackBerry password.
He was eventually released after a year in detention and his charges were dropped.
The judge said the government had shown “incredible” “prejudice” by trying to have him tried in the United Kingdom.
He said Cheney has been afforded “a fair trial” in the UK and should be given a fair trial in the US.
Cheneys case was not the first time a US citizen has been prosecuted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
In January, the Supreme Court struck down a 2007 provision in the Foreign Agents Registration Act that would have allowed US citizens and permanent residents to be prosecuted for providing information to foreign governments.
The decision was in response to the FBI’s efforts to prosecute a Russian activist who was accused of spying for a foreign government.