The American Civil Liberties Union will present arguments in the first case to review the constitutionality of a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act. The December 3rd hearing in federal district court will mark the first time the Justice Department has been called upon to defend the law in court.

The ACLU lawsuit, filed on July 30, challenges Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which vastly expands the power of FBI agents to secretly obtain records and personal belongings of innocent people in the United States, including citizens and permanent residents. 

The ACLU will argue against the government’s motion to dismiss its lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of six nonprofit organizations that provide a wide range of religious, medical, social and educational services to communities around the country. 

In briefs filed earlier this month, the ACLU said that fear of the PATRIOT Act has already caused a dramatic decline in memberships and donations at mosques and forced a church-sponsored group that aids refugees to change its record-keeping practices. 

Judge Denise Page Hood will hear the case.  The court hearing is open to the public.