It's now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.
Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to "defend the Fourth Amendment." That's really what his amendment -- requiring that surveillance be warranted -- was all about.
No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud.
To quote those words was to take a clear side: " 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, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. "
The Bug Stops Here
(Image by DonkeyHotey) Details DMCA
The Bug Stops Here by DonkeyHotey
Edward Snowden's heroic revelations have made it possible for some House members from both parties to blow away the fog that shrouds so much tap dancing on Capitol Hill. When the Amash amendment went to the floor, there was no place left to hide.
To their historic shame, 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted against Amash's amendment (while 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted for it). That's how the measure lost, 217-205.
The record of the House vote tells us a lot. Top Republicans -- including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy -- voted with Obama policies to keep smothering the Fourth Amendment. So did top Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
The stench at the pinnacle of GOP power hardly surprises most Democrats. But on civil liberties -- as on so many other profound issues -- a similar odor is emanating from the upper reaches of Democratic power on Capitol Hill, where Pelosi and Hoyer are far from the only Democrats who have become reflexive servants of indefensible Obama policies.
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