Up until this week, Americans who still believe in the value of their constitutional rights could take some solace even as they watched the House Republicans move forward with their plans to produce a long-term extension of the Patriot Act without any reforms of the law’s outrageous powers to conduct surveillance of the American people without any significant government oversight. At least, we thought, the Senate Democrats would never agree to such legislation.
Yesterday afternoon, we learned that we were wrong to suppose that the Senate Democrats would stand in the way of the Patriot Act renewal.
Without any public debate, and without any significant concessions from the House Republicans, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell introduced S. 1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011. The legislation will extend the most abusive spying powers of the Patriot Act, which were actually supposed to expire years ago, given their extreme nature, for three and half more years.
The legislation provides no reform at all, and establishes no mechanism to ensure the protection of Americans’ constitutional rights from Patriot Act spying by the federal government.
Now that Republicans and Democrats are joining together to oppose Fourth Amendment rights of protection from unreasonable search and seizure, who can Americans turn to in defense of the Constitution?
S. 1038 is scheduled to be considered by the United States Senate on Monday.