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Federal court rules permanent ban on NSL speech may infringe First Amendment

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Tuesday remanded a case involving a permanent government ban on speech when an individual receives a National Security Letter (NSL) [PDF form letter; ACLU backgrounder], stating that the ban pursuant to the Patriot Act as now amended by the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 [HR 3199 PDF text; DOJ fact sheet; JURIST news archive] may be contrary to the First Amendment. The law applies retroactively to NSLs issued before the Reauthorization Act.

The case involved an unidentified internet access firm that received an NSL seeking to review its phone and internet records because they were relevant to a terrorism investigation. Judge Richard Cardamone stated:

While everyone recognizes national security concerns are implicated when the government investigates terrorism within our nation's borders, such concerns should be leavened with common sense so as not forever to trump the rights of the citizenry under the Constitution.
Read the per curiam opinion. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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