Friday, December 19, 2008

Victory in Patriot Act case

Earlier this week, when some of us were snowed in, the ACLU announced a victory in one of their cases challenging the Patriot Act: the Second Circuit sided with the ACLU and struck down parts of the Patriot Act that allow the FBI to prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about secret record demands that strictly curtail judicial review of government-imposed gags. The FBI has used national security letters to compel internet service providers, banks, libraries and other service providers to turn over private information about their subscribers and customers. The NSL statute allows the FBI to forbid or “gag” anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone about the record demand.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals found:
Yesterday, the appeals court found that this scheme violated the First Amendment. The appeals court held that it is the government that must go to court and justify silencing NSL recipients. The appeals court also invalidated parts of the statute that narrowly limited judicial review of the gag orders. The court emphasized the importance of independent judicial review of executive branch gag orders, stating: “The fiat of a governmental official, though senior in rank and doubtless honorable in the execution of official duties, cannot displace the judicial obligation to enforce constitutional requirements. ‘Under no circumstances should the Judiciary become the handmaiden of the Executive.’” The appeals court also ruled that the government must now justify the gag on the John Doe NSL recipient in the case, a gag that has been in place for more than four years.

For full article, click .

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