Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his vocal opposition to extending parts of the Patriot Act yesterday, sparring with Senate leaders who were trying to convene a vote before provisions of the bill expired.
Sections of the Patriot Act empowering investigators to obtain court orders authorizing phone wiretaps and seizure of records pertaining to terrorism suspects will sunset at the end of the week unless the Senate votes to extend them. Such a move has bipartisan support but Paul has rejected what he sees as unwarranted violations of individual privacy. He wants a vote on amendments that would curb government's power to seek records and wiretaps, including gun records.
I am somehow to be told that because I believe a judge should sign a warrant that I'm in favor of terrorists having weapons? Paul said on the Senate floor. Can we not have a debate on a higher plane, a debate over whether or not there should be some constitutional protections, some constitutional procedure. We threw out the Constitution with the PATRIOT Act because we changed the Constitution.
A freshman senator, Paul has emulated his father Ron Paul (R-TX) with his deep suspicion of government's ability to curtail individual freedom. In the case of the Patriot Act it has made him an ally of civil liberty minded Democrats like Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), while his portrayal of the new healthcare law as an unconstitutional mandate aligns with Republican arguments.