Carrie DeCell

Senior Staff Attorney, Knight Institute

Carrie DeCell

Carrie DeCell is a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute and a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. Her litigation focuses on freedom of speech on social media, government surveillance of speech at the border, and digital-age threats to freedom of the press.

DeCell leads the Knight Institute’s litigation in Dada v. NSO Group, a lawsuit on behalf of journalists and other members of news organization El Faro, who were the victims of spyware attacks using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. DeCell also leads the Institute’s litigation in Doc Society v. Blinken, challenging the government’s mass collection and indefinite retention of visa applicants’ social media identifiers. She was a core member of the team litigating Knight Institute v. Trump, establishing that public officials’ social media accounts—including the president's Twitter account—are subject to the First Amendment. She has authored amicus briefs addressing First Amendment protections for publishers of leaked or stolen information of public concern, and statutory safeguards against government surveillance of journalists and activists. She has also been at the forefront of the Institute’s advocacy efforts against the prosecution of whistleblowers and publishers under the Espionage Act. And from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2023, she ran the Knight Institute’s externship program with Columbia Law School.

DeCell has been published or quoted in the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Guardian, The Intercept, and Just Security, and she has appeared on Democracy Now!, NPR’s All Things Considered, ABC’s The Signal, and Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post.

Prior to joining the Institute, DeCell was a senior associate at Jenner & Block LLP. As a member of the firm’s Media & First Amendment practice group, she handled a variety of matters involving constitutional and statutory speech protections and public access to information. She defended a major online publication against defamation claims and advised a non-profit organization regarding the protections afforded websites under the Communications Decency Act. Additionally, as a member of the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice group, she drafted numerous merits and amicus briefs in cases before the Supreme Court and other courts of appeals.

DeCell graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, where she served as the Essays & Book Reviews editor of the Harvard Law Review. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Judith W. Rogers on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Carrie DeCell

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