Week 12 Concept

The U.S. Patriot Act and the U.S. Constitution

By: Shelly Fitzke

The U.S. Patriot Act is the subject of extreme debate as to whether or not certain aspects of it are Constitutional with respect to the First and Fourth Amendments.  Since this is a communications class, I focused on possible and proven First Amendment violations.  According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) the Patriot Act is unconstitutional in that “it violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by prohibiting the recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, even where there is no real need for secrecy” and also “by effectively authorizing the FBI to launch investigations of American citizens in part for exercising their freedom of speech (http://www.aclu.org/national-security/surveillance-under-usa-patriot-act).”  In the case of the American Academy of Religion v. Napolitano the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the “ideological exclusion” clause of the Patriot Act because it violated the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment by not allowing certain scholars to share their views.  According to the ACLU the secrecy aspect is still permissible even in the case of leaked documentation although a redacted version may be released at some point (http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-v-department-state).

My example is from the Albany Tribune (http://www.albanytribune.com/13112012-done-in-by-the-patriot-act-oped/#.UKpujGfEwdY) and it covers the CIA scandal surrounding David Petraeus.  Basically, it’s a civil right debate about how much power the Federal government has.

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