The Patriot Act may be the most controversial law ever passed in our countries history. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was pretty controversial , along with the Alien and Sedition acts which were widely argued about. Yet, the Patriot Act goes beyond boundaries never reached before, and arguably crosses lines within our constitution that should never be crossed. The Patriot Act, for those who many not be aware, is basically an act that dramatically reduces the amount and intensity of restrictions that law enforcement agencies need to put up with. These reduced restrictions allow law enforcement agencies to almost openly search through telephone conversations, emails and different records of basically any citizen that may be suspected of terrorist activity or affiliation. Some have said the Patriot Act has “turned citizens into suspects since 2001.”
The first question raised is do these acts and provisions invade our constitutional right of freedom of privacy. It’s hard to argue that the Patriot Act doesn’t invade this right given to the people by the constitution, the basis and backbone of our society. It completely invades our privacy, hacking and looking into peoples telephone calls and emails takes away a chunk of the privacy a citizen has. Just because a citizen is suspicious doesn’t give law enforcement agencies the power to look through everything this person does basically on a day to day basis. Now the opposition will say that the government needs to do whatever they can to ensure the safety of the people, and to not let something like 9/11 ever happen again. Now, I agree with this, terrorism is something we continually fight against and need to continually be cautious about, but making our own citizens the suspects is just not an option.Yes, the original act has been reduced since the original one Bush proposed, but major elements still exist that invade this privacy.
If my main man, Martin Luther King was still alive, he would be up in arms over the Patriot Act. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, King talks about the difference between unjust and just laws. Basically he says everyone has a moral obligation to follow the laws that are just. Yet, the laws that are seen as unjust, should be disobeyed by the people. According to King, just law is a moral law or the law of God, whereas unjust law is made up by humans and does not have anything common with eternal and natural law. Following what King said in his letter, he would be completely against the Patriot Act. He would advise the people to disobey this act in any way possible, an unjust law is not one that should be followed. MLK was very serious about this, the laws that are unfair to the people are meant to be disobeyed in order to hopefully change them.
Now I have taken my stance on the topic on hand. Now it is time for you to take yours. Do you think that the Patriot Act is a constitutional act? Can our right to privacy be limited if it ensures the safety of all? Would you agree with MLK that we should disobey this law? All comments are welcomed.