Thanks for the Bill of Rights. Let’s keep it intact.

On Sunday, the Centre Daily Times published a column “recognizing those who have made marks on the world.” Author Rhonda Chriss Lokeman thanks whistle-blowers, peacekeepers and human rights organizations. She also says:

“Thanks for the Bill of Rights. It keeps politics in its place, something best remembered during USA Patriot Act deliberations.”

We are thankful for the flurry of editorials across the state and across the country calling for Congress to reform the PATRIOT Act and supporting the Senate Bill. We’ve seen editorials in Scranton’s Times Tribune, the Centre Daily Times, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We encourage you to write to your local papers. Support editorial boards that have taken a stand and encourage others to do the same. Here’s a letter in response to an Allentown Morning Call editorial. And another from Clint Walker, a member of the Lehigh Valley Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

“Four years after hurried passage, the complex USA Patriot continues to alarm many Americans with its handful of police state provisions. When Congress reconvenes, a conference committee will try to reconcile the two houses’ conflicting versions for renewing the Act. The November committee draft was so hostile to civil liberties that a bipartisan group of Senators vowed to use all parliamentary means to keep it from becoming law.

Opposition to the House’s proposals to make the Act more invasive spans the entire political spectrum, including Americans for Tax Reform, American Conservative Union, American Bar Association, National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, and ACLU. In addition, 392 local governments and seven state legislatures have passed resolutions against the original Act. The issues are not only privacy and due process; business interests and local governments do not want to bear the unfunded costs of responding to federal demands for information under the Act and the costs of litigating their objections to those demands.

With this rare pan-partisan opposition to the Act’s invasiveness, it is politically defiant for the House to push to make the Act more invasive, remove sunsets entirely from 14 of the Act’s original 16 provisions, and enact long seven year sunsets for the remaining two provisions. Until the Act is proved both effective and non-injurious, Congress should be required, through sunsets, to evaluate it in its entirety every four years.”

Keep it up, folks, our voices are being heard!

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