2008 Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich released a statement today praising the ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero that overturned a key provision of the Patriot Act. Marrero wrote that the provisions of the Patriot Act relating to the use of National Security Letters (NSL) sent to telephone companies and internet service providers ordering them to turn over records about customers are, â€œthe legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.â€
Marrero also wrote that the use of NSLâ€™s could have a chilling effect on free speech and association. â€œIn light of the seriousness of the potential intrusion into the individual’s personal affairs and the significant possibility of a chilling effect on speech and association – particularly of expression that is critical of the government or its policies – a compelling need exists to ensure that the use of NSLâ€™s is subject to the safeguards of public accountability, checks and balances, and separation of powers that our Constitution â€œprescribesâ€.
In reaction to the decision, Dennis Kucinich said, â€œIt is a matter of public record that the White House and the Justice Department have no respect for the Constitution or the rights and freedoms of Americans, but this ruling also makes it clear that some members of Congress have been willing accomplices to these Constitutional abuses; and they have a responsibility to explain their votes.â€
Kucinich also talked the unconstitutional Patriot Act. â€œCongress passed an unconstitutional and unconscionable law in 2001, and then, failing to recognize its mistake, re-authorized the law last year,â€ Kucinich said. â€œWhat makes this situation even more dumbfounding is that five Democrats who voted in the U.S. Senate to support that unconstitutional law are now asking to be elected President. If my colleagues had made the right decision in 2001 and in 2006, they would be in a better position today to claim they have the leadership, experience, and wisdom to be President. Their records, however, on this and other issues, such as the war in Iraq, tell a very different story.â€
I think to almost anyone who has a basic understanding of the Constitution it is clear that large parts of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional. The fact that the NSLâ€™s are not reviewed by a court, and impose a gag order on their recipients make them a clear violation of nothing less than the separation of powers which our entire governmental system is based on. Congress made a mistake in the first place when they authorized this power grab by the Executive Branch, and compounded their error when they renewed it. Although little can be done to remedy the civil rights violations that have already occurred, at least future abuses can be prevented.
Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears every Tuesday and Friday.