Often times, Congress's voting patterns can only be categorized as either the pursuit of power or the protection of power. Case in point: this week, the Senate voted 79-12 against the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, which would have extended Fourth Amendment protections to electronic communications. (The irony of the Senate voting on an act intended to protect a constitutional amendment is not lost on me.) Nevertheless, our esteemed elected officials voted the measure down, and I can't think of any reason they would do such except to protect the power they have expanded over us under the guise of national security.
Urging a yes vote, Senator Rand Paul adamantly spoke in favor of the failed act:
The Fourth Amendment guarantees that people should be secure in their persons, houses and papers against unreasonable searches and seizures.Only a psychopath would have voted against this act.
Somewhere along the way, though, we became lazy and haphazard in our vigilance. We allowed Congress and the courts to diminish our Fourth Amendment protection, particularly when our papers were held by third parties.
I think most Americans would be shocked to know that the Fourth Amendment does not protect your records if they're banking, Internet or Visa records. A warrant is required to read your snail mail and to tap your phone, but no warrant is required to look at your e-mail, text or your Internet searches. They can be read without a warrant. Why is a phone call more deserving of privacy protection than an e-mail?
This amendment would restore the Fourth Amendment protections to third-party records, and I recommend a yes vote.