Today, members of the House of Representatives got a chance to vote on whether or not to extend some of the most onerous provisions of the Patriot Act. Yesterday, I called my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), to ask how he was planning to vote on this issue. His Washington office did not have an answer at that time and so I encouraged him to vote no. As Benjamin Franklin once said (and I have quoted several times), “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” –Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin. This so-called “Patriot Act” is the modern manifestation of this struggle. In our great desire for security, would we give up our freedoms and the rule of law, that which separates us from the despotic nations and peoples who attacked us on September 11th? Unfortunately, we failed that great test back in 2001 when the Patriot Act originally passed and then again in 2005/2006 when many of the provisions were extended the first time.
As the dust settled today, the final vote in the House was 277 in favor, 148 opposed, and 9 nonvoting. Given that the bill required a 2/3rds majority to pass, it has been defeated…at least for now. I was disappointed to see that a vast majority of Republicans, including Bob Goodlatte, voted in favor of this bill. In fact, only two of Virginia’s eleven Representatives voted against the bill: Bobby Scott (VA-3) and Jim Moran (VA-8). I’m starting to wonder if the Tea Party’s call for limited and constitutional government has fallen on deaf ears. Will most of the newly elected Representatives and Senators support big government business as usual?
Prior to the vote, several members spoke out in opposition to renewal. I submit to you the words of Republican Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14) and Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10).
Update: Senator Rand Paul (KY) now shares his opinion this topic.
Lastly, I’d like to share one more video. Several years ago, Judge Napolitano offered his thoughts on the Patriot Act. In short, his opinion is that it was passed in Congress in too great of haste and erodes our Constitution and our liberty. Watch and see if you agree.