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Judiciary Committee Kills Important Privacy Amendment

Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted on the bipartisan Poe-Lofgren Amendment to the USA Freedom Act, a bill intended to reduce to reduce warrantless spying on American citizens. The Amendment offered two desperately needed improvements to the bill. The first would have prevented the government from searching through “incidentally collected data” without a specific warrant except in emergency situations. The second would forbid the government from requesting or mandating that manufacturers include “back doors” in their products to allow for surveillance of the users.

Without these improvements, the USA Freedom Act does not go as far as it should in protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment right against “unreasonable search and seizure.” Unfortunately, a majority of Judiciary Committee Members voted against the amendment, citing fears that the Republican leadership would kill a stronger bill.

It’s extremely disappointing that political considerations would stand in the way of the Judiciary Committee fulfilling its duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. While nearly all of the Members of the Committee expressed admiration for the goals of the Poe-Lofgren Amendment, the fact that they allowed themselves to be intimidated by the leadership into voting against their conscience makes this kind of lip service to the Constitution ring rather hollow.

Below is a list of the Committee Members who supported the Amendment, and voted to uphold the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections for all Americans. We thank them for their courage and commitment to liberty.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX)
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)