RealNews

Part of U.S. anti-terror law may be nullified

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to strike down a California child molesting law may have also overturned part of a federal terrorism law. Like the California law, a section of the USA Patriot Act changes the statute of limitations for certain crimes — in this case, a variety of terrorism-related offenses — and allows charges to be filed after the deadline under the previous law has expired. For the same reason that the state law didn’t pass constitutional muster, the Patriot Act provision on terrorist suspects is likely doomed as well. The court said the 1994 state law, which allowed prosecution of decades-old molestation cases, was unconstitutional because it allowed defendants to be charged beyond the deadline that was in effect when the alleged crime occurred. No other state has a law like California’s, but there is a comparable provision in the USA Patriot Act, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The provision repealed all deadlines for prosecuting terrorist crimes that carry a risk of death or serious injury, ranging from chemical and biological weapons attacks to malicious property damage. Like the California molesting law, it was drafted to apply retroactively to cases in which the previous statute of limitations had expired. Full Story

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