search
top

The Patriot Act Is Unconstitutional

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, more commonly known as the Patriot Act, was passed by Congress in October 2001 to give law enforcement increased powers in the fight against terrorism. Running 342 pages, the law contains more than 150 sections, most of which are amendments to existing statutes. The Patriot Act was first presented to Congress five days after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and passed 45 days later. Since when has government been so fast to do anything? This bill was already written long before 9/11. Think about that for a second. The law was passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress — by a 98-1 margin in the Senate and 356-66 in the House — but since then a growing number of legislators have become critical of it. Most of those expressing concern have been Democrats. So just what is The Patriot Act? The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress signed into law by US President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. With its ten-letter abbreviation (USA PATRIOT) expanded, the Act’s full title is “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”. In response to the September 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks, Congress swiftly passed legislation to strengthen national security. On October 23, 2001, Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3162 incorporating provisions from a previously-sponsored House bill and a Senate bill also introduced earlier in the month. The next day, the Act passed the House by a vote of 357–66, with Democrats comprising the overwhelming portion of dissent. Those opposing the law have criticized its authorization of indefinite detentions of immigrants; the permission given law enforcement officers to search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s consent or knowledge; the expanded use of National Security Letters, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional. Many of the act’s provisions were to sunset beginning December 31, 2005, approximately four years after its passage. In the months preceding the sunset date, anybody supporting the act... read more
top