April 02, 2010
A Troubling Aspect of the Patriot Act
Judge Andrew Napolitano, the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey, has been helping to spread an awareness of a troubling aspect of the Patriot Act which undermines the safeguards set forth in the Bill of Rights to protect individual liberty.
According to the Patriot Act, which relies on an expansive interpretation of Congress power to regulate interstate commerce, an FBI agent can serve an individual a self-written search warrant, and in the process prohibit the individual from telling anyone about having received the warrant, including a spouse, priest, lawyer, or court of law.
An example of this law gone awry is found in a case from Bridgeport, Connecticut, in which an 86 year old librarian was served such a search warrant in her home. Asking the agent, Who are you and what is this? she turned to her 76 year old assistant for guidance. As a result of her appeal to a third party for help and revealing that she had received such a warrant – the federal government indicted and tried her for violating the Patriot Act.
After the jury was impaneled and it became clear that the federal judge would use this case to declare the Patriot Act unconstitutional, the federal government withdrew the case to avoid the possibility that the law would be struck down. As a result, this flawed legislation remains at large. While the purpose of the Patriot Act is to protect our nation from terrorist attack, we witness an unfortunate example in which good intentions and an intrusive federal government are putting individual liberty at risk.
Here is the YouTube video of Judge Napolitano’s discussion.