Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC Monthly Newsletter
In advance of the scheduled expiration of three provisions of the PATRIOT Act in June, and in the wake of a major judicial ruling recognizing that mass surveillance under one of those provisions is illegal, Congress is considering three pending proposals to reform mass surveillance.
The first, the bipartisan Surveillance State Repeal Act (HR 1466), would repeal the PATRIOT Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments in their entirety. BORDC enthusiastically supports this measure as the only one that would enforce a constitutional baseline for reform, rather than accepting one contrived by a decade of lies and obfuscation spanning presidential administrations from each of the major political parties. Despite having attracted support from both sides of the partisan aisle, the bill remains invisible to most members of Congress and the press, suggesting a vital role for constituents concerned about congressional co-optation by the executive.
The second measure, fast-tracked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would reauthorize the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions without imposing any reforms to address the abuses revealed by whistleblowers. Needless to say, this bill is opposed by a broad swath of Americans. BORDC’s Shahid Buttar described it recently as “the legislative equivalent of not showing up for work.”
Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees seeking acompromise that would extend mass surveillance introduced the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which would restrain some facets of dragnet surveillance while preserving others. Because it fails to stop bulk collection and would extend authorities currently set to expire, the so-called Freedom Act has drawn assertive opposition from a range of groups, including BORDC, Demand Progress, the Republican Liberty Caucus, and every one of the NSA whistleblowers remaining in the country after resigning their career to inform the public.
On May 7, a federal appeals court issued a ruling recognizing the illegality of mass surveillance under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The ruling characterizes bulk collection as beyond the limits permitted by the enabling statutes, while conspicuously avoiding a decision as to its constitutionality. According to Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, “The current reform proposals from Congress look anemic in light of the serious issues raised by the Second Circuit.”
BORDC has developed a brief set of suggested talking points, and encourages concerned Americans to take a moment today to contact your congressional representatives to share your views, ideally together with friends and neighbors who share them, too.
The People’s Blog for the Constitution features news and analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, and offers an easy way to stay up-to-date and informed.
To get involved in any of these campaigns, please email BORDC’s Organizing Team. We are eager to hear from you and help support your activism.
BORDC promotes concerns about the contitutional crisis—and grassroots activism challenging the national security state—through media such asTwitter and Facebook, as well as traditional media including print, online, radio, and television. Check out our latest appearances:
To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC has provided microgrants to grassroots coalitions pursuing local campaigns to advance civil rights and civil liberties.