Brandon Mayfield VS The Patriot Act
Here is a brief summary. In May of 2004 Brandon Mayfield, a Portland Lawyer, was arrested on suspicion of being involved with the terrorist bombing in Spain based on a faulty fingerprint analysis by the FBI. His house was broken into and computers and documents were taken by the FBI based on provisions of the Patriot Act. Mayfield was also held without charge for over two weeks. Mayfield had another problem - he was Muslim. He was eventually released, the FBI apologized and gave him a Two million dollar settlement. Mayfield went to court to challenge the Patriot Act. A little more than two years later:
Judge rules in favor of Mayfield challenge
A federal judge in Portland declared a portion of the USA Patriot Act unconstitutional Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violated the constitutional ban on unreasonable search and seizure.Of course the Bush justice department will appeal so this is just the beginning.
The decision is a victory for Brandon Mayfield, a Beaverton lawyer mistakenly linked to the 2004 Madrid train bombings because the FBI botched a botched fingerprint match.
Although Mayfield settled with the government for $2 million, he continued to pursue his claim that the portion of the Patriot Act that allowed federal agents to obtain a secret warrant violated the constitution.
Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act, which lowered the burden for obtaining a warrant, upset the balance of power by giving the executive branch too much power.
Before Congress adopted the Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Aike wrote, "the three branches of government operated with thoughtful and deliberate checks and balances - a principle upon which our Nation was founded.
These constitutional checks and balances effectively curtail overzealous executive, legislative, or judicial activity regardless of the catalyst for overzealousness. The Constitution contains bedrock principles that the framers believed essential. Those principles should not be easily altered by the expediencies of the moment."
Read the ruling here.
Patriot Act Provisions Voided
Judge Rules Law Gives Executive Branch Too Much Power
A federal judge in Oregon ruled yesterday that two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional, marking the second time in as many weeks that the anti-terrorism law has come under attack in the courts.
In a case brought by a Portland man who was wrongly detained as a terrorism suspect in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution because it "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
"For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law -- with unparalleled success," Aiken wrote in a strongly worded 44-page opinion. "A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."
The ruling in Oregon follows a separate finding on Sept. 6 by a federal judge in New York, who struck down provisions allowing the FBI to obtain e-mail and telephone data from private companies without a court-issued warrant. The decision also comes amid renewed congressional debate over the government's broad powers to conduct searches and surveillance in counterterrorism cases. Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said last night that the administration "will consider all our options" in responding to yesterday's ruling.