OPINION: Is the PATRIOT Act Constitutional?

By Joseph Gallagher
University of Iowa Tea Party President
Ron Paul 2012 Volunteer

In order to understand what is and isn’t unconstitutional we must under stand what the Constitution is. The Constitution is the supreme law of land here in America as it was written to form a new republican government. In the Constitution there are is a section called the “Bill of Rights”. The Bill of Rights does not grant us any rights but prevents the government from infringing on the rights endowed by our creator. The specific amendment in the Bill of Rights that conflicts with the misleading “PATRIOT Act” is the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In modern language this means that in order for the government, specifically the executive branch, to obtain a warrant to invade your privacy they must first be approved by a grand jury (a judge). This is a form of separation of powers and it prevents one branch of the government from becoming to powerful. The colonists and the Founding Fathers were sick of the British officers writing their own warrants which gave themselves permission to invade a person’s privacy. The colonists fought back and eventually expelled the British from their land. To prevent this tyranny from happening in their own country the Founders came up with the 4th Amendment, however,  the PATRIOT Act allows the government to do what our Founding Fathers feared, it granted the government to write their own warrants.

The PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to write warrants for themselves, granting their own permission to invade the privacy of the American citizen- exactly what the American colonists were mad at the British for. The PATRIOT Act takes aim at those suspected of “terrorism”. While fighting terrorism is a good thing, whose definition of terrorism does the government use? Well the government uses their own definition. Terrorism is a tactic, not a set group of people. If one were to trace the origins of modern terrorism one would find themselves with Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Army. If the government is allowed to invade Americans’ privacy based on such a vague term that they themselves can define, there is no limit to their power. Not so long ago Vice President Joe Biden compared the Tea Party to terrorists. While we must defend ourselves from terrorists we must also remember that governments can be just as dangerous as any foreign enemy.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”-Benjamin Franklin

“Man is not free unless government is limited”- Ronald Reagan

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” -Abe Lincoln

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