Republicans Missed an Opportunity on Amash Amendment

The following policy statement has been issued on July 31st by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota:

Background

United States Representative Justin Amash and his colleague from Michigan’s congressional delegation, John Conyers, offered an amendment which would have reigned in massive collection of American phone records by the National Security Administration (NSA). The amendment would have specified that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court authorize warrants only for information pertaining to a person under investigation. This would have brought the court into compliance with the legislative intent of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act as expressed by many among those who voted for it, including the past chairman of the law’s authorizing committee.

When given the opportunity to support the Amash amendment and side with the American people in defense of civil liberties, Minnesota’s entire Republican congressional delegation – including Representative John Kline, Representative Erik Paulsen, and Representative Michele Bachmann – contributed to the amendment’s failure.

Issue

The Republican Party labors to maintain credibility, both nationally and in the state of Minnesota. While many of the party’s officers and activists work tirelessly to promote a vision of liberty and secure individual rights, the actions of the party’s elected officials carry far more weight than any amount of messaging from the grassroots. Issues like the NSA’s unwarranted and unconstitutional spying on American citizens present elected officials with an opportunity to demonstrate fealty to principles so often espoused on the campaign trail. In this instance, the wholesale rejection of liberty by Minnesota’s Republican congressional delegation conveys blatant disregard for those principles. The fact that more Democrats than Republicans voted in support of the Amash amendment, despite Republicans holding the majority in the House, will haunt the party going into a critical 2014 election season where Republicans should otherwise hold an advantage.

RLCMN Position

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota (RLCMN) expresses its membership’s profound disappointment in Representatives Kline, Paulsen, and Bachmann. The RLCMN calls upon state party leadership to join activists and officers from the districts these three represent in reiterating the party’s commitment to upholding the Constitution and – more importantly – the principles which inform it.

The RLCMN supports the following key elements of this issue:

The Fourth Amendment: The RLCMN believes that the spirit and intent of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is unambiguous in its protection of each individual’s right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Congressional oversight: The FISA court and the NSA have clearly overstepped the bounds of their authorization under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, as confirmed by those members who voted for it. The RLCMN believes that Congress has a duty to act whenever legislative intent is compromised, in order to ensure government remains of, by, and for the People.

Credibility: The RLCMN believes that the viability of the Republican Party depends upon establishing and maintaining credibility on issues of civil liberty. The clear difference between our party and any alternative must be voter confidence in our elected officials to act in accordance with the Constitution and in defense of those individual rights which it was established to protect.