Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Letter to Illinois Congressional Representatives on Modernizing FISA

The following is a copy of the letter I have submitted to both Illinois Senators, and Representative Jan Schakowsky of the Ninth District in Illinois in the House of Representatives. I am writing my Congressional representatives regarding the proposed updates to FISA. The letter follows.

As a young litigation attorney and constitutional scholar, I must implore you to prevent the passage of laws that would expand the President's power to spy on American citizens. Doing so would fundamentally debase the principles of privacy imbued in the Bill of Rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Amendments.

While the President appears noble in his cause, protecting Americans from Terrorism should not be a justification for eroding the protections that continue to separate American liberties from the rest of the world. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause in order for the government to collect information on its citizens. This protection prevents government abuses by requiring process before a judge before permitting the government to violate the sanctity of one's home. The Fourth Amendment secures the notion of American individualism and autonomy. To denigrate the protections of the Constitution would serve only to make us less American by lending to more government oversight. Moreover, these evils were the express cause of creating a limited American governmental structure, which tied the hands of our leaders from invading the lives of those subject to the social contract.

Furthermore, the argument that this is necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks serves to abuse the baseless rhetoric of fear perpetuated by a President who has continuously disregarded his oath of office and acted out of irreverence for the people he was elected to serve. To date, the President can not point to empirical proof that more spying is necessary to make the United States more secure from foreign attack. The reason the President is asking for a review of FISA is because the law is operating to restrict the constitutional abuses the President wishes to propagate.

FISA originally came from Congress's reaction to Nixon era scandals. Similarly, the War Powers Act served to provide more balance between the President and Congress when both wish to exercise their constitutionally created war powers. Amending FISA to allow more latitude for Executive "intelligence" programs will fundamentally debase the balance between the three branches of government outlined in the Constitution and supported by FISA and the War Powers Act.

Congresswoman/man, I ask you, as an American, not to support a change in the law that will destroy the ideology that gave birth to this great nation. I ask you to oppose the expansion of executive power that will operate only to restrict our liberty and erode the freedoms the American Union stands for. I ask you not to fall into the traps of rhetoric used by the President, and to work towards policy that not only protects us from terrorists, but preserves the protections from the government the Constitution provides for the people.

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