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Apple Brings U.S. Founders Into IPhone Fight

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - Apple responded to the government's claims that it is corroding the Constitution by defying an order to help unlock a San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, arguing in court papers that "the Founders would be appalled" by the government's position.

In February, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking Syed Farook's iPhone 5c as part of the investigation into Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik's mass shooting in San Bernardino this past December.

Ever since Pym issued her order, Apple and the government have become locked in an increasingly bitter war of words.

The government accuses the tech giant of undermining law enforcement efforts to unravel its investigation into a crime that left 14 dead and 22 injured.

Apple claims that the privacy rights of tens of millions of iPhone users could be compromised.

After Apple made clear that it would defy the court order, the government asked Pym to compel Apple to comply. Apple filed a motion to vacate the order. The government filed an opposition.

The latest court filing from Apple could be its last before lawyers argue the case in Pym's courtroom next Tuesday in Riverside Federal Court.

In a reply filed by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorney Theodore Boutrous, Apple insists the government cannot use the 227-year-old All Writs Act to circumvent Congress and force the tech company to create a backdoor operating system.

"The government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is," the reply states.

According to Apple, the government's position is that "short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can use the All Writs Act to order companies to do "virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up."

"The Founders would be appalled," the filing states.

Apple says that several past and present national security and intelligence officials "flatly disagree" with the government's position.

The FBI and Justice Department are urging the court to decide the case "in a vacuum" and "without regard to either the swirling national debate about mandating a back door or the dangers to the security and privacy of millions of citizens," Apple says.

"This case arises in a difficult context after a terrible tragedy," the reply states. "But it is in just such highly-charged and emotional cases that the courts must zealously guard civil liberties and the rule of law and reject government overreaching."

Apple is demanding that the court deny the government's request and vacate the February order.

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