A federal judge in Oregon ruled today that “two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional, marking the second time in as many weeks that the anti-terrorism law has come under attack in the courts.”
In a case brought by a Portland man who was wrongly detained as a terrorism suspect in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution because it “permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”
“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success,” Aiken wrote in a strongly worded 44-page opinion. “A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised.”
Judge Aiken’s ruling was in the case of “Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer who was arrested and jailed for two weeks in 2004 after the FBI bungled a fingerprint match and mistakenly linked him to a terrorist attack in Spain.”
The FBI used its expanded powers under the Patriot Act to secretly search Mayfield’s house and law office, copy computer files and photos, tape his telephone conversations, and place surveillance bugs in his office using warrants issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Brandon Mayfield’s attorneys said in a statement that Judge Aiken “has upheld both the tradition of judicial independence, and our nation’s most cherished principle of the right to be secure in one’s own home.”
Little by little, Bush’s Patriot Act is unraveling with the two provisions today being ruled unconstitutional. But we still have along way to go…