July 26, 2003

The Unpatriot Act

The U.S. House of Representatives recently had two votes, praised by Ron Paul, that limit the application of the Patriot Act and protect civil liberties:

One amendment, sponsored by Congressman Butch Otter of Idaho and cosponsored by Paul, denies funding for the Justice department to execute so-called "sneak and peek" warrants authorized by the Patriot Act. "Sneak and peek" warrants enable federal authorities to search a person’s home, office, or personal property without the person’s knowledge! This secrecy upsets decades of legal precedent requiring that an individual be served with a warrant before a search. The House voted overwhelmingly not to fund this overzealous federal police practice.

The House also unanimously passed an amendment prohibiting funds for the Justice department to force libraries and bookstores to turn over records of books read by their patrons. Librarians around the country have led the charge against this provision in the Patriot Act, arguing that Americans have always been free to read whatever they choose without being monitored by government.

The battle against the Patriot Act has only just begun, however, as the Senate could strip the new restrictions passed by the House. Both the administration and congressional leadership continue to support the Act, despite public outcry against it and growing opposition among rank and file members of the House. Paul and hundreds of his House colleagues now hope to capitalize on their momentum by working to repeal all or part of the Patriot Act itself.