Judge Invalidates U.S.A. Patriot Act Provisions

The Washington Post reports in the Sept. 7/07 article Judge Invalidates Patriot Act Provisions that a judge has declared portions of the U.S. Patriot Act to be unconstitutional:

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI’s use of secret “national security letters” to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters.

The secrecy provisions are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values,” Marrero wrote. His strongly worded 103-page opinion amounted to a rebuke of both the administration and Congress, which had revised the act in 2005 to take into account an earlier ruling by the judge on the same topic.

It is not addressed in the article, but libraries in the U.S. have been aversely affected by the Patriot Act. It essentially became a gag order, not allowing public libraries to report to patrons when an FBI search had been conducted of their records. The public library ethic, as you may know, is to keep patron borrowing records private with very few exceptions. The Patriot Act, therefore, has been seen as a limit on intellectual freedom.


Thanks to the discussion last night on the cool new library phone-in show Uncontrolled Vocabulary for directing me to this story. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the decision yet. If someone finds it, please let us know via the comments. Thank you!

Related: Threat Level – Wired Blogs: Librarians Describe Life Under an FBI Gag Order by Luke O’Brien (June 24, 2007)

Source for library signs: Librarian.net by Jessamyn West

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