Wednesday, September 26, 2007

4th Amendment is ALIVE!!!

Portions of The Patriot Act have been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

The man behind the suit that challenged the constitutionality of the law was the Oregon man that was wrongly accused in the Madrid bombing. This man found out first hand how intrusive this law is.

(CNN) -- A federal court on Wednesday struck down two provisions of the Patriot Act dealing with searches and intelligence gathering, saying they violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures with regard to criminal prosecutions.

"It is critical that we, as a democratic nation, pay close attention to traditional Fourth Amendment principles," wrote Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in her 44-page decision. "The Fourth Amendment has served this nation well for 220 years, through many other perils."

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, set up to review wiretap applications in intelligence cases under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, "holds that the Constitution need not control the conduct of criminal surveillance in the United States," Aiken wrote.

"In place of the Fourth Amendment, the people are expected to defer to the executive branch and its representation that it will authorize such surveillance only when appropriate."

The government "is asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. The court declines to do so," Aiken said

Aiken ruled that FISA, as amended by the Patriot Act, permits the government to conduct surveillance and searches targeting Americans without satisfying the probable-cause standard in the Fourth Amendment.

"Prior to the amendments [to FISA], the three branches of government operated with thoughtful and deliberate checks and balances -- a principle upon which our nation was founded," Aiken wrote.

But the Patriot Act, she said, eliminated "the constitutionally required interplay between executive action, judicial decision and Congressional enactment."

"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," she wrote.

Aiken noted that FISA does not require that the subject of a search be notified, although the Fourth Amendment ordinarily does. In addition, she said, the Fourth Amendment requires particularity -- authorities seeking a search warrant, for example, must list what they are looking for and where they are looking for it.

Break out the champaign, at least for now. This ruling will very likely be appealed. The article mentions that this judge is a Clinton appointee and is very liberal. However, the points raised by this judge seem solid.

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