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Comments of Zoe Lofgren on Telecom Immunity and H.R. 6304

The following is a text transcription of the spoken remarks on June 20, 2008 of Representative Zoe Lofgren of California regarding H.R. 6304, the bill that guts the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and lets telecommunications corporations get off scot-free for violating the law and your privacy rights:

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. I appreciate that some improvements have been made to Title I of this bill, but even these improvements are undercut by the scheme in Title II that means there will be no accountability and perhaps no adherence to the provisions of Title I. I cannot support the legislation’s deeply flawed provisions relating to the issue of immunity for telecommunications companies. These provisions turn the judiciary into the administration’s rubber stamp. The review provided in the bill is an empty formality that will lead to the pre-ordained conclusion, dismissing all cases with no examination on their merits.

Under this bill, the courts are not allowed to ask whether the conduct of the corporations who assisted was in fact legal. They may only note that the administration says it was legal. In other words, the conclusion on the ultimate question of legality, a decision the Constitution dedicates to the judiciary, will instead be made by the executive branch, with the judiciary acting as a rubber stamp. This turns the process of judicial review into a joke, and denigrates the supposedly independent and coequal branch of government.

Because immunity already exists in the law under 18 U.S.C. Section 2511, it provides that telecommunications companies are immune from suit provided the company has been provided with a court order or a certification by the Attorney General in writing that the order has been obtained or is unnecessary.

Thank you, Rep. Lofgren, for saying part of what needed to be said. Thanks are also due to Zoe Lofgren for voting against H.R. 6304 later that day. It is unfortunate that we don’t have more constitution-respecting, law-abiding members of Congress like Zoe Lofgren in the House.

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