It's All the Patriot Act Nowadays:
I finally have found a lawsuit involving the Patriot Act that brings the Justice Department and the ACLU together. A homeless man in Summit, New Jersey, brought a $5 million federal lawsuit against town officials for forcing homeless people to leave the town's train station. The town's defense of its action includes the claim that its action is justified by the Patriot Act.

  The Patriot Act doesn't have anything remotely related to kicking homeless people out of train stations, however. As best I can tell, the town attorney seems to believe that Section 801 of the Act is relevant to the lawsuit. He's way off, though. Section 801 creates a federal crime for conduct involving interference with mass transportation systems. It has nothing to do with civil powers, local officials, or hanging around on benches in the waiting area of the local train station.

  According to the AP, both DOJ and the ACLU agree that the town's interpretation of the Patriot Act is just wrong, if not patently silly:
  Edward Barocas, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said the Patriot Act defense is weak: "Nothing in the Patriot Act lets them kick homeless people out of train stations."
  The U.S. Justice Department also criticized Summit's use of the law.
  "That represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Patriot Act is," spokesman Kevin Madden said Wednesday. "The Patriot Act is a law enforcement tool to identify and track terrorists and stop them from further attacks on America. To apply it to this case is, shall we say, an overreaching application of the law."
  Thanks to PatriotWatch for the link (although I should point out that the poster at PatriotWatch may not recognize that this is just a frivolous legal argument, not a "use" of the Patriot Act.) Post title inspired by Gordon Liddy.
CrimeAndFederalism (mail) (www):
Smart move on DOJ's part - their first smart move in a while. Instead of turning their back on a clear abuse of the PATRIOT Act (or worse, supporting it), they're making an effort to ensure it's not used in this context. Have you been advising them behind-the-scences or something?
7.3.2005 5:56pm