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Running Roughshod over Dissent in the House, Shutting Up Sheila Jackson-Lee

In a ridiculous mockery of deliberative democracy, those members of the House of Representatives who opposed H.R. 6304, the bill that guts the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, were given only 15 minutes to articulate their dissent before the whole bill — which had been introduced to the House only 24 hours before — was shoved through.

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee’s experience was typical. Here are her remarks — or rather, the extent of the remarks that she was able to speak before being shut up by her colleagues:

Today I rise in enormous opposition to H.R. 6304, because frankly Madam Speaker, it is very difficult to put lipstick on a pig. What we have here is an opportunity for the government to conduct mass untargeted surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States without any individual review and without any finding of wrongdoing.

What Americans don’t know is that this government can now surveil you for seven days without any approval. And then, if the court denies the application, while the application is being appealed from the denial you can be surveilled for 60 days. This is not constitutional protection.

And as it relates to the idea of those who are now in court on warrantless searches, now the courts have no authority over them,

Interruption: The gentlewoman’s time has expired.

and your cases will be dismissed. I ask my colleagues to oppose this, because…

Interruption: The gentlewoman’s time has expired.

There’s something that the authoritarian majority in the House doesn’t want you to know. They don’t want you to know that H.R. 6304 sets up a system for the federal government to spy on you electronically, reading your email, listening to your telephone calls, watching what web pages you visit, following your financial transactions, and engaging on top of that in physical searches of your home, office or car, without a warrant, without any explanation of why they are doing it to anybody, without the ability of a judge to even stop it, letting the government keep use information it obtains illegally, and stopping constitutional challenges to the law from ever moving forward.

They don’t want you to know this, and they’re willing to shut up their fellow legislators to keep you in the dark.

Read H.R. 6304 for yourself and see what it does. Then don’t let them shut you up.

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