By any reading of the plain words of the Constitution, which is not how contemporary jurists read the Constitution, the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:
I have been writing for years about the dangers to human freedom that come from government mass surveillance. The United States was born in a defiant reaction to government surveillance. In the decade preceding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the villains were the Stamp Act and the Writs of Assistance Act. Today, the villain is the Patriot Act.
Here is the backstory.
In 1765, when the British government was looking for creative ways to tax the colonists, Parliament enacted the Stamp Act. That law required all persons in the colonies to purchase stamps from a British government vendor and to affix them to all documents in one’s possession. These were not stamps as we use today, rather they bore the seal of the British government. The vendor would apply ink to the seal and for a fee — a tax — impress an image of the seal onto documents.
All documents in one’s possession — financial, legal, letters, books, newspapers, pamphlets, even posters destined to be nailed to trees — required the government stamps.
The very concept of one federal agent authorizing another to seize records is antithetical to the Fourth Amendment and repugnant to the American Revolution.
I am writing about this now because a section of the Patriot Act will expire on March 15, and many congressional liberals and libertarians — even a few conservatives still bruised at the governmental surveillance of candidate Donald Trump in 2016 — have been contemplating structural changes to this pernicious law.
Section 215 — which is about to expire — is as fatal to freedom as is section 505. It permits designated federal judges to issue general warrants based on the old writs of assistance standard of governmental need. One of those judges signed a search warrant for the telephone records of all Verizon customers in the U.S. — at the time, 115 million of them.
Both 215 and 505 are weapons of mass surveillance and should be repealed. They are instruments of a totalitarian government, not of free people. They defy the Constitution. They presume that our rights are not natural but come from a government that can take them back. Mass surveillance produces a state that knows more about us than we do about it — one that will slowly consume our freedoms in the name of governmental needs. It already has.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.