Accordingly, the issue now before the Court is not whether, or under what circumstances, the government should possess the authority to issue [National Security Letters]. Rather, the more fundamental quesiton is the extent of the authority that the First Amendment allows the government to exercise in keeping its use of NSLs secret, insofar as such secrecy inhibits freedom of speech.
The Court's review of First Amendment jurisprudence yields two primary conclusions. First, the government's use of nondisclosure orders must be narrowly  tailored on a case-by-case basis. That is, a nondisclosure order may not be broader in either scope or duration than the degree of secrecy required to serve the government's interest in protecting national security. Second, the nondisclosure orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review. To conform to prevailing constitutional norms as read by this Court, taking into account the unique latitude and added flexibility national security needs demand under ordinary circumstances, as well as the practicalities of surveillance work before a target is adequately identified, in issuing and NSL the government must either affirmatively terminate the nondisclosure requirement or bear the burden of justifying to a court why continued secrecy is necessary within a reasonable period of time after the FBI issues and NSL containing a nondisclosure order.
Additionally, and in many ways most troubling, this Court finds that the standard of review the Reauthorization Act directs that the courts must apply when a nondisclosure order is challenged offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers. Independent of the First Amendment deficiencies identified by the Court, the deferential standard of review imposed on reviewing courts by § 3511(b) fails not only because it creates too great a danger that constitutionally protected speech will be suppressed, but more fundamentally because it reflects an attempt by Congress and the executive to infringe upon the judiciary's designated role under the Constitution. To conform with § 3511(b) as drafted, a court reviewing a nondisclosure order must apply not the standard of review the judge determines is mandated by constitutional law, but an overly deferential standard imposed by Congress. It is axiomatic that in our system of government it is the province of the courts to say what the law is. When Congress attempts to curtail or supersede this role, it jeopardizes the delicate balance of powers among the three branches of government and endangers the very foundations of our constitutional system. Thus, for this reason as well, § 3511(b) fails.