Judge Declares Part of Patriot Act Unconstitutional

A federal judge has declared part of the USA Patriot Act unconstitutional.

It's a portion that bars anyone from giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations.

The judge says the ban is too vague, and therefore violates the First and Fifth Amendments. Her ruling says the law doesn't differentiate between giving advice on violence and encouraging peaceful resolution.

A law professor who argued the case says the ruling marks the first time a court has struck down part of the post-Nine-Eleven statute. He calls it a victory for "everyone who believes the war on terrorism ought to be fought consistent with constitutional principles."

No comment so far from the Justice Department.

The ruling was handed down late Friday in Los Angeles and made available today.

The case involves five groups and two U.S. citizens who wanted to support nonviolent activities on behalf of Kurdish refugees in Turkey. The plaintiffs say they risked 15 years in prison under the Patriot Act.

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