Fed Judge Rules Against Patriot Act

Nixes two key provisions that allow secret search without probable cause
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2007 6:07 AM CDT
Fed Judge Rules Against Patriot Act
Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, right, confers with his wife, Mona Mayfield, during an announcement in Portland, Ore., in this May 24, 2004, file photo, that a federal judge dismissed the case against Mayfield in which he had been arrested in the Madrid train bombings investigation. U.S. District...   (Associated Press)

Key provisions of the Patriot Act allowing secret searches have been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. In the case of Portland lawyer Brandon Mayfield, whose home and office were secretly raided after he was mistakenly linked to bombings in Madrid, a US District judge found that search warrants were issued without probable cause, violating the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure.

"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law—with unparalleled success," the judge wrote. "A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited." The Justice Department  is expected to appeal. The federal government had earlier apologized to Mayfield and settled part of a lawsuit for $2 million after admitting a Madrid fingerprint had been misread. (More Brandon Mayfield stories.)

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