(By Jerry Titus, Howard County Chairman. This is Part Two of a series on the Patriot Act. Part 1)
Why do Libertarians dislike the Patriot Act?
Sound outlandish? It certainly would be unusual, and unlikely to find an agent sitting at your desk. But the reality of the government’s ability to access and search your private records and files is outlandish.
The ‘Patriot’ Act gives government agents the powers to do these types of searches, and more. Rarely would you ever see an agent or likely even know that your records have been searched.
Why do Libertarians dislike the Patriot Act? Well a better question would be why do we like the Fourth Amendment?
Libertarians believe in the sovereignty of the individual and that all rights the state has to operate emanate from the individual. That the government works for us, and does what we say it can do. Not the other way around.
Properly understood, the United State Constitution is a contract that specifically limits the United States Government to exactly its functions. Unfortunately, like so many other sections of the Constitution, the contemporary interpretation of the fourth amendment has become so twisted that is little resembles the original intent.
The Fourth Amendment was specifically written to limit the State in its exercising of Police powers. Due process is the result of an almost 200 year struggle for the defense of individual rights to privacy and property. After centuries of losing the battle, a nation founded itself with this guiding principle:
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. ~ The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
The encroachment on civil liberties and due process has been ongoing from our founding it accelerated with the execution of the drug war. With the Patriot Act, the Federal government has given itself supreme police powers, totally ignoring the fourth amendment to the Constitution. It is maybe the greatest example of the government taking more power from its citizens in American history.
These principles of “due process” and of a government restrained in its police powers are further clarified in the Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Key provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire at the end of this month and failed to pass in an attempted procedural end run. Another vote will take place at 6 PM tonight.
We libertarians, as in the past, call on you to inform your Congressman and Senators to Vote no on any extension or renewal of the Patriot Act.