Justin Amash

Justin Amash, Jared Polis Introduce Bill Requiring a Court Order for Telephone Records


Remember that one? ||| conservativeactionalerts.com

While the White House very lamely attempted to do damage control on the Department of Justice's grotesque Associated Press surveillance dragnet by unconvincingly re-animating a push for a federal shield law exempting the professional press from most non-national-security-related federal fishing expeditions, some actual civil libertarians in Washington have introduced a bill that would increase protections for all Americans against unchecked federal snooping.

Via InstaPundit, here's your press release:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), joined by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), today introduced legislation to prevent federal agencies from seizing Americans' telephone records without a court order.

H.R. 2014, the Telephone Records Protection Act, requires court approval when the government demands telephone records from service providers. Current law allows the government to subpoena such records unilaterally, without any judicial review. The Department of Justice likely used its administrative subpoena authority to seize the Associated Press's telephone records in its recent investigation of a CIA leak.

"The Justice Department's seizure of the AP's phone records—likely without the sign-off of a single judge—raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns. Regardless of whether DOJ violates the legitimate privacy expectations of reporters or ordinary Americans, we deserve to know that the federal government can't seize our records without judicial review," said Amash.

More at the link.

Journalists, whenever under the prosecutorial gun, spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about the First Amendment rather than the Fourth (or even the Fifth). I'm glad Amash et al are focusing on the implications outside the narrow interests of the affected guild, and it's heartening to see the continuing emergence of a bipartisan civil-liberties caucus on Capitol Hill.

Reason on Justin Amash here, including this Reason.tv interview:

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  1. So the fourth doesn’t exist, or do we just need a newer piece of paper saying it’s not OK.

    1. everything is different now. email =/= paper like muskets=/= assault rifles. oh, and TERRORIZM

  2. The White House should buy the press a big, fat diamond ring, ? la Kobe.

  3. I’m glad Amash et al are focusing on the implications outside the narrow interests of the affected guild…

    Of course, the only thing that broke the scandal dam here was the effect on the media. Amash isn’t going to get any journalistic support if he’s not giving them special privileges.

    The press in freedom of the press is the mechanism, not the profession. When and why did people start applying it to the occupation?

  4. I know it’s probably wrong to say this, but I kind almost DON’T CARE about the government’s spying on the mainstream media, given that so much of the mainstream media has for so long not given a shit about the many ways in which the government violates people’s rights on a daily basis.

    In my lifetime, they have not given a shit about eminent domain. They didn’t not give a shit about digging into the Hakkens story to find out why they lost their kids. They did not given a shit about the Reichart story AT ALL. They did not give a shit about Randy Weaver. They played up the David Koresh/child-abuse angle at Waco to make the government into the good guys. I could go on.

    The mainstream media frankly only cares about civil liberties abuses when it’s a Republican doing the abusing AND a Democrat getting abused. If it’s a Republican getting abused or a Democrat oing the abusing, or frankly anyone at all not associated with partisan political, they couldn’t give a FUCK. Not one flying fuck about it.

    So when it happens to them? Yeah, I don’t give a fuck.

    1. Oh, or if it’s a minority. If it’s a minority it let’s them play the racism angle. Otherwise, fuck you, you’re not interesting.

    2. Well of course it’s wrong. Just like it’s wrong for TEAM players to sign off on just about everything, as long as their TEAM is in charge. You always have to consider the totality of the effects, both in terms of time and affected parties. Even if the vast majority of the affected parties are disfavored by yourself, will that always be true? And does that discount the minority that would still also be subject to such intrusions?

      1. Yes, I know, I personally think freedom of the press should be protected and everything.

        It’s just hard to muster the outrage when so much of the press so obviously doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s civil liberties except their own.

        1. Their own, or their preferred classes of people. (Democrats and minorities).

    3. Every problem begins and ends with socialism. The media doesn’t respond to normal market forces that would otherwise serve their consumers because, quite frankly, in a massive semi-socialist country like ours, there’s more power to be acquired fellating the state then can be gained economically by serving the needs of your customers. And despite that, there’s a whole contingent of morons out there that want the media nationalized. Any time you hear somebody complain about “the corporate media”, they’re making an implicit call for nationalization. And once the state controls the media, it’s game over. Democracy can’t even help the majority at that point, because the majority will think whatever they’re programmed to think, with no alternate POV available whatsoever. The only thing that can stop it is a call to principle by the majority. But then you see the kind of spineless, self-serving crap Tony spews around here and it becomes pretty clear that’s not going to happen.

  5. It’s so heartening that we’re at the point where we now have to pass laws reaffirming what’s already in the Constitution.

    1. You kind of have to when judges have rendered things like “unreasonable” and “probable cause” to be practically meaningless.

  6. Something tells me this bill is going to get hammered by conservatives who see themselves in a few years occupying the shoes democrats wear and not wanting to parlay with the courts over matters of national security. And democrats will play the anvil, because FREEDOM OF THE PRESS overrides the importance of an unobtrusive government.

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