A federal judge in Los Angeles, who previously struck down sections of the Patriot Act, has ruled that provisions of an anti-terrorism order issued by President George W. Bush after September 11 are unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins found that part of the law, signed by Bush on September 23, 2001 and used to freeze the assets of terrorist organizations, violated the Constitution because it put no apparent limit on the president’s powers to place groups on that list.
Ruling in a lawsuit brought against the Treasury Department in 2005 by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Collins also threw out a portion of Bush’s order which applied the law to those who associate with the designated organizations.
"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists, an authority president Bush then used to empower the Secretary of the Treasury to impose guilt by association," said David Cole of the Washington-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
"The court’s decision confirms that even in fighting terror, unchecked executive authority and trampling on fundamental freedoms is not a permissible option," he said in a statement
The 45-page decision, made public on Monday, came in response to petitions by both sides to throw out the lawsuit and rule in their favor. The judge allowed to stand part of the order that would penalize those providing services to groups on the list.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of five organizations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, which wants to create a separate state for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan, which represents Kurds in Turkey.
Both groups had been designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations.
In 2004 Collins struck down a section of the Patriot Act that prohibited lawyers from providing expert advice to groups suspected of having terrorist links.