Judge Strikes Down Parts of Patriot Act, National Security Letters

A federal judge today struck down parts of the new U.S.A. Patriot Act that authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to acquire corporate records using informal secret demands called national security letters.

The law allowed the F.B.I. to force communications companies, including telephone and Internet providers, to turn over their customers records without court authorization and permanently to forbid the companies from discussing what they had done. Under the law, enacted last year, the ability of the courts to review challenges to the ban on disclosures was quite limited.

Today's New York Times reports: Judge Marrero wrote that he feared the law could be the first step in a series of intrusions into the role of the judiciary that would be the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.

According to a report from the Justice Department's inspector general in March, the F.B.I. issued about 143,000 requests (big number there)through national security letters from 2003 to 2005. The report found that the bureau had often used the letters improperly and sometimes illegally, case in point, the letters served to Connecticut's Library Connection.


I posted at your journal that the ruling is stayed. (and I posted the full text of the order.)

Personally I would not post and journal the topic. I might promote my journal to the front page (although I doubt I would do that). However posting and journaling only forces me to reply to two different items.

However it goes give me the opportunity to mention that the stay of an order by a District Judge pending appeal is not an unusual occurrence in Federal Court.

Although it concerns me that the ACLU did not mention this on their page (I was looking for a good link to the Order) If they can omit the stay, I can which is explicit in the Order, I can certainly omit that which is common knowledge for those members of the Federal Bar (of which I am not, but most of the ACLU are).

Sorry for the bold but I think it is important that I note that staying of one's order pending appeal is not uncommon. If my post in the journal can be edited to note that I would be pleased if it were done.

N.B. I feel it is common knowledge among those called to the Bar that the Judges commonly stay of these types of orders. I would certainly enjoy hearing the opinion of those who practice in the City. (I have not been admitted to the Federal Bar and appeared only once Pro hoc Vice in the Southern District of Florida.)

Not my journal, the LISNews poll. Anyone is welcome to suggest a poll and I wish more people would.