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Sen. Rand Paul seeks to strengthen Fourth Amendment protections

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul
Office of Sen. Rand Paul

In response to last week's startling revelation that the National Security Agency had conducted an extensive seizure and surveillance of Americans' Verizon phone records, Kentucky's junior senator, Republican Rand Paul, was quick to respond.

In a statement released on Thursday, from Sen. Paul's congressional office, the senator called the NSA actions, "... an astounding assault on the Constitution." He went on to say, "After revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political dissidents and the Department of Justice seized reporters' phone records, it would appear that this Administration has now sunk to a new low."

The senator reminded us that, when he and Sen. Mike Lee offered an amendment that would attach Fourth Amendment protections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year, it was defeated, and FISA was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that FISA was "necessary to protect us from the evil in this world."

"The Bill of Rights was designed to protect us from evil, too, particularly that which always correlates with concentrated government power, and particularly Executive power, Sen. Paul continued. "If the President and Congress would obey the Fourth Amendment we all swore to uphold, this new shocking revelation that the government is now spying on citizens' phone data en masse would never have happened."

Also on Thursday, Sen. Paul announced he will introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013, which ensures the Constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment are not violated by any government entity.

The operative phrase in Sen. Paul's proposed bill, is contained in one simple sentence: "The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States Government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."

"The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the Executive's expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party," Sen. Paul said. "When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which would provide exactly the kind of protections that, if enacted, could have prevented these abuses and stopped these increasingly frequent violations of every American's constitutional rights.

"The bill restores our Constitutional rights and declares that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."

Click HERE to view the text of this legislation.

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