The Patriot Act is up for reauthorization again, and it’s stirring a deep debate in the halls of Congress over whether or not the Patriot Act should be renewed. Several leading conservatives have joined a gaggle of liberals to stand up against reauthorization, which is being championed by the establishment of both parties. Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended the Patriot Act by saying that the Supreme Court had never found it to be unconstitutional. However, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) explains the problem with such a simplistic argument in a discussion on MSNBC.
Senator Mike Lee: The government right now is collecting information on your cell phone, anyone you’ve called, anyone who has called you over the last five years. how long you’ve talked. And what time you talked. This is analogous in some ways to the use of general warrants that our founding fathers fought strongly against.
Senator Mitch McConnell: Nothing in this extension has ever, ever been found to be unconstitutional. And most of these authorities have never even been challenged in court.
Senator Mike Lee: His legal statement, that part of that statement that goes to the legal issues, he’s correct as far as that statement goes. But listen to what he’s saying. None have ever been found to be unlawful and most of them have never been challenged. Until quite recently, the American people weren’t aware of this program. So it’s not exactly something that could be challenged right away anyway.
But secondly, regardless of whether any of these have ever been found to be unlawful, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fully consistent with the text and the historical understanding of the constitution.