Thursday, September 27, 2007

Taking Back Our Constitution

Gracious, yesterday was one of those rare days that restores your faith in the future of our nation. Here in Portland, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken issued her opinion in the Brandon Mayfield case, finding parts of the Patriot Act unconstitutional.

Hats off to Mr. Mayfield for pursuing justice and his attorneys Gerry Spence, Elden Rosenthal, and Michelle Longo. As well, to a courageous judge who did not shirk her duty. Judge Aiken found that many provisions of the Patriot Act violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure.

Unfortunately, this is a first round. It's hard to imagine that the government won't appeal. The issues here are critically important. Whether it's in this case or some other, the U.S. Supreme Court will have to weigh in. Can't say that I'm optimistic that the Supreme Court will be as clear-headed as Judge Aiken.

I suppose some might think that the judge was wrong. The argument goes that we have to be willing to make sacrifices when public safety or the national security interests are in play. It's not a bad argument, really, but Mr. Mayfield's terrible saga shows what happens when we sacrifice fundamental rights for public safety or the like.

The truth is that it's not easy living in a society that protects the rights of individuals. We have to be clear about that. Even so, we need to take that hard road because there is too much at stake. Unchecked governmental power is a very dangerous thing, even if it seems like the safe thing to do. So while it's not easy, if we're to live in the America that we value, we have to honor those precious fundamental rights set out in the constitution.

David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC

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