Key provisions of the Patriot Act allowing secret searches have been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. In the case of Portland lawyer Brandon Mayfield, whose home and office were secretly raided after he was mistakenly linked to bombings in Madrid, a US District judge found that search warrants were issued without probable cause, violating the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure.
"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law—with unparalleled success," the judge wrote. "A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited." The Justice Department is expected to appeal. The federal government had earlier apologized to Mayfield and settled part of a lawsuit for $2 million after admitting a Madrid fingerprint had been misread.