ACLU Says Lawmakers Failed to Protect the Constitution; House Approved Flawed Patriot Act Bill

July 21, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Following the passage of the House of Representatives’ flawed attempt to reauthorize the Patriot Act late tonight, the American Civil Liberties Union said the measure undermines the very freedoms and liberties that define America. House leadership denied members the ability to consider several amendments to the underlying proposal that would have brought the 2001 law in line with the Constitution by restoring proper checks and balances on government power.

The bill was adopted on a vote of 257 to 171.

The following can be attributed to Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy:

“Flawed from the start, this bill fails to protect our most fundamental freedoms. Instead of allowing a thorough debate on relevant amendments that would help place proper checks against government abuse, the leadership of the House instead pushed forward with a limited set of amendments and refused to allow votes on key amendments that would have restored key checks and balances and helped ensure greater oversight and protection of our civil liberties.

“Throughout this single day of debate allowed on the far-reaching powers of the Patriot Act, there were repeated bipartisan calls for meaningful changes to improve this law and protect both our security and our liberty. Had the people’s House allowed key reforms to receive an up or down vote, the serious flaws in the original Patriot Act could have been repaired. Given the opportunity to vote their conscience on amendments to protect our civil liberties and prevent making these intrusive powers permanent, fair-minded lawmakers would have spoken for freedom.

“One can only wonder why this bill was placed on an artificial fast-track. Controversial sections of the act do not expire for another five months, and like the initial passage of the Patriot Act, its reauthorization process was rushed and not given the full measure of time for careful consideration of the ramifications of this bill. History shows that the willingness to curtail America’s freedoms during national challenges ultimately leads to regrets about betraying our fundamental values.”

To read the ACLU’s letter to the House on the Patriot Act reauthorization legislation, go to:
/node/24840

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the Patriot Act, go to:
http://www.reformthepatriotact.org

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