WASHINGTON - July 11 - As Congress prepares to debate the USA PATRIOT Act and the future of the Supreme Court, a new report documents the erosion of the judiciary's power to protect Constitutional liberties since September 11.|
The report -- Courting Danger: How the War on Terror Has Sapped the Power of our Courts to Protect our Constitutional Liberties -- was released today by the Justice at Stake Campaign, a nonpartisan national partnership of more than 40 organizations working to keep courts fair, impartial and independent. The report can be downloaded from Justice at Stake's Web site.
Courting Danger shows how ten sections of the PATRIOT Act, along with other recent policies, have granted the federal government more powers to investigate and incarcerate without meaningful review from a judge. Numerous provisions of the PATRIOT are set to expire this year unless they are reauthorized by Congress.
"In some cases, our judges' gavels have been replaced with rubber stamps," said Bert Brandenburg, Executive Director of Justice at Stake. "In many cases, the government can now skip the courthouse altogether."
In addition to analyzing the PATRIOT Act, the report:
-- Reviews its sequel, "Patriot II," which the Justice Department initially disavowed but parts of which have reappeared in current proposals. In June a Senate panel approved a bill, S. 1266, parts of which would extend the reach of the government even further than Patriot II.
-- Shows how, since September 11, courts have been losing their powers to guarantee refugees and immigrants procedures that are fair and treatment that is decent.
-- Shows how America's courts, since September 11 and for more than two centuries, have routinely given the President and Congress considerable deference during times of war.
-- Provides context by showing how for more than a decade, an increasingly aggressive band of lawmakers and special interest groups have been working to weaken the power of our courts and the legitimacy of our judges.
The report also provides information on more than 20 government agencies and organizations on all sides of the debate over how to balance liberty and security in post 9/11 America.