Utah Senator Mike Lee on the Patriot Act and the Fourth Amendment

By the Left Coast Rebel

I missed this floor speech from freshman senator, tea-party-favorite Mike Lee:

Senator Lee's statement is so commendable that I wanted to post the transcript here in it's entirety.

From Lee.senate.gov:

I thank the distinguished Senator from Kentucky for standing up for the fourth amendment principles that he's articulated today.

This is an important issue to all Americans.

Americans want to make sure that we can identify and apprehend those people who would harm us.

And at the same time Americans are firmly committed to the idea of constitutionally limited government.

The concept that regardless of how passionately we might feel about the need for certain government intervention, we can't ever allow government to be operating completely unfettered.

We have liberty in place whenever government is controlled by the people, and whenever there are certain things that are beyond the reach of the government.

Now, Senator Paul has helped identify some key areas of concern that have been implicated by the Patriot Act.

And he has suggested that we ought to, at a minimum have, a robust debate and discussion over some amendments that might be proposed to the Patriot Act before we proceed.

Three months ago we had a discussion, we had a vote and there were a few of us who voted against the Patriot Act.

We voted against it because we love America, because we believe in constitutional limited government, because we want to make it better, we want to make this something that can, at the same time, protect Americans but without needlessly trampling on privacy interests, including many of those privacy interests protected by the fourth amendment.

Bad things happen when we adopt a law without adequately discussing its merits.

Now, years ago when the patriot act was adopted, there were a number of people who raised some of these privacy concerns.

For that and other reasons, congress made the decision way back then, almost ten years ago to adopt the patriot act and adopt certain provisions of it, subject to some sun-setting provisions.

So congress would periodically be required to debate and discuss these provisions.

It does us no good if every time it comes up we're told you have to vote for it or against it, we can't really debate and discuss it, we can't really consider amendments to it. We were told three months ago that in May, toward the end of May, and we're now here -- we'd have an opportunity to debate, discuss, and consider amendments.

That opportunity has now been taken away from us, and with it the chance to address some of these important privacy implications, many of which do implicate the fourth amendment in one way or another.

Senator Paul has referred to some of them, including some of the implications of national security letters, which while not directly implicated by the expiring provisions at issue right now are inextricably intertwined with other issues in front of us including those related to section 215 issues and including the roving wiretap issue, itself up for reauthorization.

I speak in support of the idea of robust debate and discussion. Especially whereas here it relates to something that is so important in the American concept of limited government, so closely related to our fourth amendment interests, we ought to have robust debate, discussion, and opportunity for amendment.

And I thank Senator Paul for his leadership in this regard.

Thank you.

Hat tip United Liberty.

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