By: Wesley Long
All 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives have taken this oath:
“I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
The language is clear; there exists no provision for party loyalty or even “national security”. Our elected officials swear simply to uphold the Constitution. Yet far too often representatives from across the political spectrum dismiss “Constitutional concerns” in the interest of their party’s political agenda or in the name of keeping the people ‘safe’ from terrorists and criminals. It is encouraging, therefore, to witness significant bipartisan condemnation of the NSA’s 4th Amendment violations in recent weeks.
Senator Rand Paul is leading the charge, proposing a class action lawsuit against the Federal Government over the NSA abuse, but he is hardly alone.
Prominent leaders from both parties are condemning the NSA’s actions, and advocating for change. This Business Insider article synopsizes:
“Six of the Senate's most liberal members — Democratic Sens. Pat Leahy (Vt.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Al Franken (Minn.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) — to team up with Republican Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Mike Lee (Utah), a Tea Party favorite.”
“On the side of strict protection of privacy are people like Sens. Lee and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), along with those Democratic senators. They are joined by conservative media titans Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Matt Drudge, and liberal figures like filmmaker Michael Moore and Glenn Greenwald, who has broken many of the stories relating to the leaks.”
An effort to apply sunsets to surveillance provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act is being spearheaded in the Senate by Democrat Patrick Leahy and has garnered support from Republicans such as Mike Lee. The drafted legislation, featured on Leahy’s Senate website, states its purpose:
“To strengthen privacy protections, accountability, and oversight related to domestic surveillance conducted pursuant to the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.”
In the House of Representatives, Democrat John Conyers and Republican Justin Amash hope to place finite limits on the government’s surveillance powers with the LIBERT-E Act (H.R. 2399), writing in The Huffington Post:
“With the public now more aware of its government's surveillance, we hope to renew Congress's focus on protecting civil liberties. The NSA's programs are reported to collect information on practically all Americans. Taking this opportunity to fix the system should be a project we all can support.”
Help Campaign for Liberty in our ongoing efforts against unconstitutional government spying by signing our 4th Amendment pledge of support.