Alaska Bars State Participation in Intrusive Federal Security Measures: Legislators Say "No" to Abuses Under the PATRIOT Act

Affiliate: ACLU of Alaska
May 22, 2003 12:00 am

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ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Civil Liberties Union today applauded passage of House Joint Resolution 22 by the state legislature enforcing the protection of individual liberties for all Alaskans in the face of intrusive federal actions taken since 9/11. The pro-civil liberties resolution makes Alaska the strongest critic of the federal government’s controversial USA PATRIOT Act and initiates policies prohibiting enforcement of the law at the state level.

Alaska’s resolution is the 114th of its kind to pass in a city, county or state jurisdiction around the country. Over 13 million Americans are now covered by these resolutions. Alaska’s is the second statewide resolution.

“”This resolution affirms the motto of Alaska, ‘North to the Future,'”” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the AkCLU. “”As a state, we have always led the Lower 48 in respecting and ensuring the individual rights of our residents under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This exceptionally strong resolution reflects our dedication to civil liberties and our deep-seated belief that Alaska – and America – can be both safe and free.””

The Alaska House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted the resolution, which has enjoyed strong bipartisan support since its introduction, with a 37 to 1 vote. The Alaska Senate passed it unanimously on May 20th, with a 19 to 0 vote. The Alaska resolution is one of the strongest to pass in the nation to date. House Majority Leader Rep. John Coghill (R-North Pole) and Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) both played key roles in getting the resolution passed, as did Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage).

The Alaska resolution explicitly prohibits state agencies from engaging in racial profiling and prohibits the use of state resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters. It also bars state agencies from creating intelligence dossiers on the political, religious and social views of individuals and organizations, unless the information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities.

Further, in the absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under Alaska state law, it prohibits participation in investigations, detentions and surveillance as well as seizure of personal library, medical, financial, student and sales records, even when authorized by the PATRIOT Act. Additionally, the resolution calls upon the Alaskan Congressional delegation to work to correct sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and other measures that unduly restrict personal freedoms.

The joint resolution is a direct response to the USA PATRIOT Act, the federal anti-terrorism bill that was rushed through Congress in the weeks after September 11, 2001, with little debate. Although some provisions in the bill are non-controversial, others expand government surveillance and law enforcement powers far beyond anything conceivably necessary to prevent terrorism or catch terrorists.

“”Security and liberty are not mutually exclusive, and while it is unclear how much safer the PATRIOT Act makes us, it clearly makes us less free,”” said Rudinger. “”Our own Congressman Don Young, one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, called the USA PATRIOT Act the ‘worst piece of legislation we ever passed.’ Conservatives, centrists and liberals alike are wary of too much government power over our lives – this resolution affirms Alaskan’s bipartisan commitment to protecting civil liberties.””

The text of the resolution can be found at:

For more on the resolutions initiative, go to:

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