The essay argues that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. It begins
with an introduction on the reasons for the formation of the act. Theact was created following terror attacks in America. Thus, thegovernment reacted by incorporating in the constitution provisions,which would be employed in guaranteeing national security. The act aswell applies in ensuring that the federal government conductssearches on civilians suspected to be terrorists or aiding in terroractions. The first argument is that the act is an impediment to therule of “checks and balances” on government power. It is possiblefor government to search civilians’ houses without providing awarrant. Such searches are unconstitutional as they act against theFourth Amendment.
It is necessary that the government have authority to observe theactions of its civilians. This is because in most instances, theterrorists reside within the nation where they intend to attack.Hence, the Patriot Act is constitutional in its provision of clausesunder which government works towards ensuring national security. Themethods employed by government in monitoring the actions of citizensare what make the act unconstitutional. Provision 213, 215 and 505has enhanced the infringement on civil liberties. Individuals are nolonger sure that their communication and actions are private becausethere is always a third eye listening and watching. The same appliesto the media, who are not free to air or publish their content,specifically information that critics the government. They riskcensor of their publication as government has more authority.Government needs to deduce better manners of applying the Patriot Actto ensure that the freedom of expression and speech are a guarantee.
“Is the Patriot Act Constitutional”
The Patriot Act was a reaction to America’s September 11 terroristinvasion. The act provides tools needed in intercepting, as well asobstructing terrorism. Created by congress, the act finds andprosecutes terrorists or terror groups operating within Americansoil. It is imperative in ensuring the wellbeing of all civilians.However, most of the provisions in the Patriot Act violate theAmerican constitution. This paper argues that the Patriot Act isunconstitutional. It infringes on the First Amendment freedoms, whichsafeguard freedom of expression and speech, the Fourth Amendmentfreedoms that safeguard civilians from unexplained search andseizure.
The act impedes the basic US principle of “checks and balances”on administrative authority. The government is not permitted to carryout a search on an individual’s residence without a warrant, inaddition to having convincing evidence demonstrating that theindividual has participated or may take part in an offence.Conversely, the Patriot Act works against the Fourth Amendmentthrough permitting the administration to carry out searches even incases where they lack a warrant. This is common amid the FederalBureau Investigation (FBI) officials, who merely declare that thesearches are important in ensuring the country’s security. Theofficials claim to have authorization to progress with theiroperations without warrants. Currently, the situation has improved tosome extreme because the FBI officials are supposed to get a warrantfrom the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). FISA’sobjective is to avoid abuse of power given to the FBI through thePatriot Act. Despite the years of FISA’s existence, though, itscourt has just refuted six search warrants from the thousands ofrequests. This makes it simpler for the FBI to infringe on civilians’rights by spying despite lacking ample proof that the person underscrutiny poses peril to national security.
It is irrefutable that the US administration requires having theauthority to observe suspect terrorists. It is improbable to ensurenational security without some level of infringing on the rights ofcivilians, specifically with technological developments. In supportof its constitutionality, the Patriot Act does not impede on the UScivilians freedoms rather, guarantees that those intending to harmthe nation have restricted means of progressing with their terroracts. The act was enacted as a manner of facilitating enhanceddefense of citizens. The outcome of September 11 depicted nationalsecurity as a necessity. The constitution despite allowing all thosefreedoms also puts into consideration the general good of the countryas a whole. This means that the constitution must as well defend thecountry from individuals that lack value for human life.
The issue derives from how government monitoring happens. The actdoes not create a desirable balance amid safeguarding its citizensfrom terror attacks and safeguarding the freedoms of Americans frompossible government abuse. Specifically disconcerting are a number ofprovisions formulated to increase administrative authority withrestricted “checks and balances” and close to infinitepossibility for abuse (Khalil 5-6). One provision is section 213 thatlargely increases the Federal government’s authority. Under thesection, law enactment officials are mandated to carry outsneak-and-peek operations within American. The provision results inthe infringement of the Fourth Amendment through a lack ofrequirement that the individuals subject to searches be informed ontheir privacy intrusion. This means that people have no say when itcomes to unwarranted searches been conducted without their consent.
Second is section 215, which makes it possible to open medicalinformation, magazine subscriptions, and communications over theinternet, and psychiatric information and social service files amongother confidential information by the FBI (Khalil 23). An example isthe FBI requesting for the names of persons that have borrowed a bookfrom libraries, especially when the book is considered to have atopic undesirable in ensuring national security. The situationbecomes worse when persons whose private information has beenaccessed never become aware of government actions. Third is section505 that eases the employment of “national security letters” ininvestigations conducted by the federal administration. The lettersare a mode of administrative subpoena, which lawfully force anorganization to release confidential records of particular persons.In the past, the letters were employed by FBI to access informationabout foreigners and identified terror suspects. Section 505 in thePatriot Act includes the power given to the FBI to get confidentialinformation from non-terror suspects. It is simpler to get theletters compared to usual subpoenas, since the letters require noauthorization from judges. All that is needed is signing by specifichigh-ranking FBI officials.
In arguing of the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, Section 505is effective as it makes it simpler for government to get informationconcerning all kinds of wrongdoers effortlessly. However, theprovision is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. In specific, itinfringes on the “due process of law”. The phrase argues peopleshould not be denied their right to life, freedom or possession, withno due procedure of law. On the contrary, section 505 makes itprobable for FBI to circumvent the normal subpoena process to acquireneeded information simply. This implies that “national securityletters” can lawfully be employed in getting information oneveryday offenders such as drug peddlers, robbers, in addition topersons that lack or have minimal proof of engagement in offence.
The act has been ineffective in securing US civilian libertiesdemonstrating that it has been ineffective in its objective.Efficient law enactment following terror attacks does not imply thatUS has to reconsider historic ways of ensuring security.Historically, Americans were subject to unwarranted spying on theirpolitical actions. The federal administration should not useauthoritative measures in ensuring the country’s security.Civilians have the liberty to consent to the government’s actionstowards enhancing security. People are uncomfortable and incapable ofcommunicating freely due to the apprehension that their actions maybe secretly monitored without their consent. Doing away with civilfreedoms as a manner of acquiring security, the US aids terror actionin their endeavor at destroying democracy within the western globe.The act exposes individuals to possible abuse by the “Big Brother”.It is no longer possible for media to publish information criticizinggovernment without apprehension of “Big Brother” initiatingunauthorized survey on the endeavors of the media. This means the actmakes it probable to spy on not just terror suspects, but allcivilians.
In conclusion, the Patriot Act was formed with the objective ofensuring national security. In specific, it protects the nation fromterrorism activities. However, the provisions under the act have madeit possible for government to exercise more control over the freedomsof civilians. This makes the Patriot Act unconstitutional due toconstant searches with no warranty on innocent civilians. Inaddition, the act aids in reducing the American democratic ideal,which impedes on civil liberties.
Khalil, Andaleeb. The Patriot Act and Its Infringement on CivilLiberties. Senior Honors Theses, 44 (2005): 2-25.