Senate Judiciary Committee Addresses Patriot Act Reform

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

Senate Judiciary Committee Addresses Patriot Act Reform

Constitution Project welcomes introduction of USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today to address the need for reform to the USA PATRIOT Act, which has three provisions that will sunset at the end of the year unless reauthorized by Congress. Yesterday, Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, along with Senators Benjamin Cardin and Ted Kaufman introduced the USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act to reauthorize these expiring provisions, while incorporating important civil liberties safeguards.

Just yesterday, as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on the same topic, the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee released its Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act. Signed by a diverse group of 26 policy experts representing the full political spectrum, the Statement advocates for significant reform to the three sunsetting sections: the business/library records, lone wolf, and roving wiretaps provisions.

The Statement also calls on Congress to take this opportunity to revisit and reform the National Security Letter (NSL) authority expanded by the Patriot Act, whose abuse has been documented by the Justice Department's Inspector General, as well as the Act's provision allowing deportation and denial of visas based on individuals' political views. The USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009 introduced yesterday is consistent with the recommendations in the Constitution Project's report, and passage of this legislation would be an important step toward implementing proper safeguards for constitutional rights.

"With today's hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, both chambers of Congress have begun to consider the need for significant reforms to the Patriot Act," said Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Policy Counsel. "We welcome the introduction of legislation that would enhance the privacy and individual rights of all Americans. The USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act would accomplish much of what is proposed in the Constitution Project's Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act. Through these reforms, we can ensure that the federal government is provided with the necessary authorities to keep our nation safe, while restoring critical safeguards for individual rights and liberties."

To view the Liberty and Security Committee's Statement on Reforming the Patriot Act, go to:
http://www.constitutionproject.org/manage/file/340.pdf

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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.

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