Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Patriot Act

Does the Patriot Act violate civil rights and liberties? That is like asking me if I want a jet pack! Of course it does and of course I do! For example, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the Patriot Act, has "said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time "to put their metadata program out of business" (Roberts, 2013). The government is data mining our information without a warrant. That is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution which states: 

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (Fourth Amendment, n.d.)
The fact that the government is conducting bulk searches and seizures without warrants is by itself the definition of unconstitutional. In my humble opinion, any member of Congress who voted for this legislation and any law enforcement agent that has used this legislation has violated their oath to the Constitution. In a recent US Supreme Court case about police searching cell phones of citizens that they arrest without a warrant, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought" (Barnes, 2014). The court made it clear that if the police wanted to conduct a search or seizure that must obtain a warrant. 

There are obvious parallels between this case and the unwarranted bulk searches conducted from the Patriot Act. The constitutionally implied right to privacy contained within the Fourth Amendment are being grossly violated by the Patriot Act for the sake of security, but the sacrifice is too much! As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" (Wittes, 2013).

Roberts, D. (2013). Patriot Act author prepares bill to put NSA bulk collection 'out of business' - Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from
Fourth Amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2015, from
Barnes, R. (2014, June 25). Supreme Court says police must get warrants for most cellphone searches. Retrieved from
Wittes, B. (2013, June 12). Would Ben Franklin Trade Liberty for Wiretapping? Retrieved January 9, 2015, from

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