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A breakthrough in Washington

For years, I've championed the power of transpartisan resistance to the co-optation of our Republic by the Deep State, whose role in secretly undermining democracy in America is explained (in writing, or video) more elegantly by professor Michael Glennon than by me. My latest writing for EFF celebrates a milestone in the struggle to overcome secret government: the creation of a bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus in the House of Representatives. 

On matters implicating privacy, such as mass surveillance or the powers of investigatory agencies, Congress has too often failed to fulfill its responsibilities. By neglecting to examine basic facts, and deferring to executive agencies whose secrets preclude meaningful debate, the body has allowed proposals that undermine constitutional rights to repeatedly become enshrined in law. In last week’s launch of a new bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus in the House, however, the Constitution has gained a formidable ally.

Every Member of Congress swears an oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Yet the most significant threats to our Constitution include the powers of U.S. intelligence agencies, enabled by Congress’ faith in the agencies’ willingness to respect legal limits on their powers.

The post goes on to explain that:

In many cases—such as when controversial provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, and particularly in 2015—committee chairs waited until shortly before the re-authorization deadline, marginalized crucial public oversight, and then stoked fears about the security consequences of letting unconstitutional powers lapse. Other times, including 2014, and again earlier this year, the bipartisan establishment joined ranks to quell populists from both parties who sought to more actively check and balance executive power.

Constitutional rights are neither conservative nor liberal. They are simply American.

Yet they have been repeatedly undermined by ultimately authoritarian powers that congressional leaders from both of the major political parties have unfortunately supported.

In this context, the emergence of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus portends a potential sea change in Congress. Joined by 25 Members of the House from each of the major parties, the caucus is poised to champion privacy and help establish in Congress the consensus that already unites Americans across our various political perspectives.

I'm especially proud of my friends and allies at the Fourth Amendment Caucus Advisory Board, and their work to help the transpartisan movement for civil liberties find representation in Congress.

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