Colleen Kollar-Kotelly

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Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
In office
May 19, 2002 – May 18, 2009
Appointed byWilliam Rehnquist
Preceded byRoyce C. Lamberth
Succeeded byJohn D. Bates
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
March 26, 1997
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byHarold H. Greene
Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
In office
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Succeeded byAnita Josey-Herring
Personal details
Colleen Constance Kollar

(1943-04-17) April 17, 1943 (age 77)[1]
New York City, New York
Spouse(s)John Theodore Kotelly
EducationCatholic University of America (B.A.)
Columbus School of Law (J.D.)

Colleen Constance Kollar-Kotelly (born April 17, 1943) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and was Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Education and career[edit]

Kollar-Kotelly was born in New York City, the daughter of Irene (née Crowley) and Konstantine Kollar, an environmental engineer.[2] Her paternal grandparents, Paul and Anna Kollár, were emigrants from Hungary.[3] She has one sister, Dr. Ellen Kollar.[4]

Konstantine Kollar worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was responsible for the planning of water resources, and he also served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. From 1948 to 1959, he worked in U.S. foreign assistance programs in Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela,[4] where Kollar-Kotelly attended bilingual schools. She attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Catholic University of America (Delta Epsilon Honor Society) and her Juris Doctor from Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law (Moot court Board of Governors) in 1968. From 1968 to 1969, Kollar-Kotelly served as a law clerk to Judge Catherine B. Kelly of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. From 1969 to 1972, Kollar-Kotelly was an attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Appellate Section, after which she became chief legal counsel for St. Elizabeths Hospital, Department of Health and Human Services, from 1972 to 1984.

On October 3, 1984, Kollar-Kotelly was nominated as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by President Ronald Reagan; she took her oath of office on October 21. She served as Deputy Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division from 1997 to 1997.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Kollar-Kotelly was nominated by President Bill Clinton on January 7, 1997, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Judge Harold H. Greene. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 20, 1997, and received commission on March 26, 1997, taking her oath of office on May 12, 1997. Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Judge Kollar-Kotelly to serve on the Financial Disclosure Committee (2000–02), and later as Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where she served from 2002 to 2009.

Kollar-Kotelly received attention from a 2006 article in The Washington Post describing her administration of the FISC, and in particular, what weight evidence taken from warrantless searches should be given to issuing subsequent search warrants for suspects of terrorism and espionage.[5]

Notable cases[edit]

In August 2001, Kollar-Kotelly was assigned the United States v. Microsoft anti-trust case, after Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was removed from the case.

On July 14, 2004, barely two months after President Bush was forced to end National Security Agency domestic internet metadata collection by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Kollar-Kotelly issued a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order allowing the NSA to resume domestic internet metadata collection.[6]

Kollar-Kotelly denied a last-minute appeal by Saddam Hussein's legal team, stating that the United States has no right to interfere with the judicial processes of another nation's courts. In August 2007, she ordered the administration of George W. Bush to give its views regarding records requests by the American Civil Liberties Union on the National Security Agency's wiretapping program.[7]

On October 1, 2007, Kollar-Kotelly reversed George W. Bush on archive secrecy in a 38-page ruling, which said that the U.S. Archivist's reliance on the executive order to delay release of the papers of former presidents is "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law."[8] The National Security Archive at George Washington University alleged that the Bush order severely slowed or prevented the release of historic presidential papers.[9]

On June 16, 2008, Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the Office of Administration was not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and therefore did not have to release records regarding missing White House e-mails. This was seen as a victory for the Bush Administration in terms of maintaining a tight grip on the flow of information about the executive branch.[10]

On September 20, 2008, Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction ordering Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney and the National Archives to preserve all of Cheney's official records.[11]

On March 19, 2009, in response to a joint lawsuit brought by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction whereby she blocked a rule that would permit visitors to national parks to carry concealed weapons. The change of rule which she blocked had been enacted by the United States Department of the Interior after being supported by 51 members of Congress and passing an extended public comments period. She stated that her decision to block the change of rule was because there was no environmental analysis performed and therefore the Interior Department "ignored (without sufficient explanation) substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts" of the rule.[12]

Kollar-Kotelly presided over the Espionage Act case against Dr. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim after he told a reporter that North Korea would test its nuclear program. The case was controversial because it was one of a string of unprecedented uses of the Espionage Act against officials for speaking with journalists .[13]

On March 7, 2016, Kollar-Kotelly denied a requested preliminary injunction against Washington, D.C.'s discretionary issue of concealed carry permits, thereby allowing DC police chief Cathy Lanier to continue denying concealed carry permits to law-abiding citizens in most cases.[14] In 2017, Kollar-Kotelly is presiding over ACLU v. Trump and Pence.

On October 30, 2017, Kollar-Kotelly blocked the enforcement of President Donald Trump's ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military.[15]


  1. ^ Nominations for Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Hearing before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-eighth Congress, second session, September 11, 1984. p. 18-19.
  2. ^ Konstantine Kollar and Irene C Crowley; New York City, Marriage License Indexes, 1907–1995
  3. ^ New York, State Census, 1925
  4. ^ a b "Obituaries: Konstantin L. Kollar". The Washington Post. January 10, 1987. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Leonnig, Carol D. (February 9, 2006). "Secret Court's Judges Were Warned About NSA Spy Data Program May Have Led Improperly to Warrants". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  6. ^ Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman (June 27, 2013). "NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  7. ^ Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer (August 18, 2007). "Secret Court Asks For White House View on Inquiry ACLU Seeking Rulings Issued On Warrantless Wiretapping". The Washington Post. p. A03. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  8. ^ Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (October 1, 2007). "Civil Action No. 01-2447". Retrieved 2008-06-16.
  9. ^ "Court reverses Bush on archive secrecy". 2 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  10. ^ Producer, From Terry Frieden CNN Justice. "White House office wins ruling on e-mail records -". CNN.
  11. ^ Lee, Christopher (21 September 2008). "Cheney Is Told to Keep Official Records". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Eilperin, Juliet; Wilber, Del Quentin (20 March 2009). "Judge Blocks Rule Permitting Concealed Guns In U.S. Parks". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Ex-Contractor at State Dept. Pleads Guilty in Leak Case, The New York Times, CHARLIE SAVAGE, FEB. 7, 2014
  14. ^ New judge hearing challenge to D.C. gun law rules city can keep enforcing law, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Mar 7, 2016
  15. ^


Legal offices
Preceded by
Harold H. Greene
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Preceded by
Royce C. Lamberth
Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Succeeded by
John D. Bates