can’t see the forest

Oregon Federal Judge Rules Two Patriot Act Provisions Unconstitutional

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According to the Associated Press, Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District of Oregon has ruled that the Patriot Act, a controversial piece of legislation pushed by the Bush White House and passed by Congress in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, part of the country’s Bill of Rights. The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable “searches and seizures” without just cause.

From 1010 Wins:

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge issued a stern rebuke of a key White House antiterror law, striking down as unconstitutional two pillars of the USA Patriot Act.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled Wednesday that using the act to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence – instead of intelligence gathering – violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law – with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” Aiken wrote.

The case began when the FBI misidentified a fingerprint in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004, leading investigators to a Portland attorney whose home and office were secretly searched and bugged.

The FBI eventually apologized to the attorney, Brandon Mayfield, for its mistake and the federal government settled his lawsuit for $2 million.

But Mayfield challenged the Patriot Act over the searches and surveillance, claiming various civil rights violations.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield’s lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”

If the court’s ruling is upheld upon appeal, it could force the federal government to exercise more caution and discretion in the investigation of so-called “suspicious activity.”

Sorry, neocons—looks like those “activist judges” might be trying to protect your freedoms and uphold your Constitution again.


4 Responses

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  1. kip said, on 9/28/07 at 11:31 am

    Score one for America!

  2. Curtis said, on 9/28/07 at 11:33 am

    I agree. It’s a small victory, but an important one. Let’s hope it holds up on appeal.

  3. Ann El Khoury said, on 9/28/07 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks for this small but significant piece of good news. Go Judge Ann Aiken!

  4. raincoaster said, on 9/30/07 at 3:27 am

    Seriously, this is a victory for all those who think that Americans should think freely, rather than subject to some authority.

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