The USA PATRIOT Act continues to crumble. September started with one victory, and as the month winds down, a federal judge yesterday struck down two provisions of the law because they violate the 4th Amendment’s “probable cause” requirement.
The ruling by Judge Anne L. Aiken of Federal District Court in Portland was in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer in Portland who was arrested and jailed after the Federal Bureau of Investigation mistakenly linked him to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
“For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success,” Judge Aiken’s opinion said in finding violations of the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure. “A shift to a nation based on extraconstitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised.”
Under powers granted by the PATRIOT Act, the FBI searched Brandon Mayfield’s home and office and took things without ever informing him they had been there. It’s hard to believe that Congress approved such a thing in the first place, but it’s even harder to believe that it didn’t correct its error four years later when the sunset provisions of the law were renewed.
The courts appear to be the last bastion of respect for the Constitution.
Andy in Harrisburg