In a ruling handed down late Friday and made available Monday, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said the ban is impermissibly vague in its wording.
The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the ruling, spokesman Mark Corallo said in a statement from Washington.
Corallo called the Patriot Act — the federal anti-terrorism statute passed in the aftermath of Sept. 11 — “an essential tool in the war on terror” and asserted that the portion at issue in the ruling was only a modest amendment to a pre-existing anti-terrorism law.
David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who argued the case on behalf of the Humanitarian Law Project, declared the ruling “a victory for everyone who believes the war on terrorism ought to be fought consistent with constitutional principles.”
“It Is the first federal court decision declaring any part of the Patriot Act unconstitutional,” he said.
Update: Slashdot discussion: Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional