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ACLU withdraws Patriot Act challenge in wake of amendments

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Friday withdrew a three-year-old lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging Section 215 [ACLU backgrounder] of the Patriot Act [PDF; JURIST news archive]. Congressional amendment of the Act [JURIST report] in March 2006 was cited as the reason for dropping the suit. Before amendment, Section 215 provided that federal agents, empowered by an order from a secret court, can access personal information such as medical or library records without probable cause. Changes to Section 215 allow persons faced with federal demands for information to seek legal counsel and bring a challenge in court.

Originally filed in July 2003 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official site], the suit was the first challenge to Section 215. Judge Denise Page Hood ruled [Detroit News report] a few weeks ago that the plaintiffs were harmed by the Act and the suit could go forward. AP has more.

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