On Wednesday, members of Congress were given the opportunity to vote for or against the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Both Rep. Tim Murphy and Rep. Bill Shuster, the two congressmen from our area, voted against the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment states: “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. . .and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Fourth Amendment makes it pretty clear that no one can be searched unless there is probable cause to do so. Thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, we now know that President Obama’s National Security Agency searches everyone’s phone and Internet communications. This means, in effect, that the federal government claims to have probable cause that everyone is suspected of being a terrorist, subversive or traitor.
That, of course, is nonsense.
The reason this vote came about was a proposal by Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, to amend a defense bill being considered that day by Congress. His amendment sought to “end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also bar the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation,” according to the website of the House.
Amash’s amendment narrowly failed to pass. The vote was bipartisan, Democrats and Republicans voting roughly equally for and against. Both Murphy and Shuster, who swore to uphold the Constitution when they were elected as congressmen, voted against it. I don’t think either of these two should represent us in Congress if they have that much contempt for the people they represent.
The government’s search of our communications clearly contradicts the Constitution. Personally, I don’t think this wholesale snooping has got much to do with national security anyway, but a whole lot to do with instilling fear and acquiescence in those who might disapprove of the direction this country is heading.
By the way, thanks to Snowden we now know that the NSA is doing the same thing to just about everyone else on the planet, in Europe, South America, China, Russia, and on it goes. They, too, are seriously upset about it. And we claim to be the world’s bastion of freedom.