In this case, the US government is demanding Apple bypass the lock screen of a seized iPhone under the All Writs Act, a general-purpose law passed in 1789 that allows a court to require third parties’ assistance to execute a prior order of the court. As of October, 2015, Apple had opposed that order, and Federal Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the Eastern District of New York requested more information from Apple and the government about whether that law actually grants such authority.

On February 29, 2016, Judge Orenstein issued an order rejecting the government's interpretation of the All Writs Act.