Big USA PATRIOT Act News

The judge in the USA PATRIOT Act case in Connecticut [John Doe, et al v Alberto Gonzales, 3:05CV1256] has granted the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary relief [pdf]. Very interesting language in the opinion regarding the USAPA gag order provisions

Considering the current national interest in and the important issues surrounding the debate on renewal of the PATRIOT Act provisions, it is apparent to this court that the loss of Doe’s ability to speak out now on the subject as a NSL recipient is a real and present loss of its First Amendment right to free speech that cannot be remedied.

and later

The potential for abuse is written into the statute: the very people who might have information regarding investigative abuses and overreaching are preemptively prevented from sharing that information with the public…

and later

The defendants have failed to show a compelling state interest that is served by gagging the plaintiffs with regard to Doe’s identity. If the government’s interest is more broadly defined as preventing an unknown subject of the government’s investigation from learning of the government’s investigation, which would support a finding of a compelling interest, the gag provision as to Doe’s identity is not narrowly tailored to serve that interest.

Ashcroft’s “hysteria” remark winds up in the decision as well. The injunction is stayed until the 20th of September to give the government some time to appeal. [alacoun]

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