Gavel Grab

Judge Declares National Security Letters are Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston (photo) has declared unconstitutional the FBI’s use of so-called national security letters to demand customer data from phone companies, banks and other businesses.

National security letters are issued without judicial review. They are subpoenas that permit the FBI to get records without obtaining a warrant first. Companies that receive national security letters may not disclose their receipt.

Judge Illston, seated in San Francisco, wrote that the government didn’t show that the gag policy and letters ”serve the compelling need of national security,” and the non-disclosure policy causes “too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted,” the Associated Press reported.

The FBI must cease issuing the national security letters, the judge said. But the order does not go into effect for 90 days, so that the government can appeal if it wishes.

You can learn more about national security letters from a Justice at Stake report entitled “Courting Danger: How the War on Terror Has Sapped the Power of Our Courts to Protect Our Constitutional Liberties.”

No comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply