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News and past events

Commending the launch of the Fourth Amendment Caucus and Announcing the Creation of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee

 

For Immediate Release

July 13, 2016  

Washington, D.C. - A bipartisan group of 25 representatives today announced the formation of the Fourth Amendment Caucus. The Fourth Amendment Caucus’s mission is to ensure that our constitutionally protected right to privacy is not infringed upon by the government. Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), founders of the caucus, are longstanding leaders in the fight to protect Americans’ right to privacy, and we commend them and their colleagues for joining together to lead the charge on this critical issue.

Today also marks the creation of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, an independent organization that supports the goals of the Fourth Amendment Caucus by educating the American people and lawmakers about threats to our civil liberties.

Sean Vitka, Director of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, said: “Today’s announcement by 25 Members of Congress from across the political spectrum establishing the Fourth Amendment Caucus is a major step forward in the fight to protect Americans’ privacy. It signals a shift away from frenzied security theater, toward thoughtful policymaking, and an end to unconstitutional, warrantless privacy intrusions.”

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee’s steering board (see below) reflects the breadth of bipartisan support for surveillance reform and the many different ways in which Fourth Amendment violations are experienced: from massive digital intrusions to targeted surveillance of communities of color and activists. Statements of support follow:

David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress said: “Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and their 23 colleagues should be applauded for their commitment to defend Americans' privacy in the face of the surveillance state. Congress must protect privacy from the many efforts to undermine it. Millions of progressives and conservatives nationwide are fed up with the sacrifice of our constitutional rights for the sake of security theater.”

“Civil liberties are at the core of our Constitution,” added Neil Siefring, Director of Government Relations at FreedomWorks. “They should be front and center when Congress debates surveillance and related issues. The bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus will help make sure this happens and that the voices of the American people are heard when Congress legislates in regard to privacy."

“In the past 20 years, we have seen increasingly invasive surveillance and pervasive profiling based on race, national origin and religion, which has threatened our Fourth Amendment rights. The fallacy of ‘we must do to this for security’ has been used at the expense of abridging the constitutional rights of Arab Americans and communities of color. We can no longer stand idle,” said Yolanda Rondon, Staff Attorney at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“The Fourth Amendment Caucus is an admirable joining of the left and right, as is the wealth of expertise within the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee,” said Josh Withrow, Director of Public Policy at Free the People. “It's long overdue that we have a formal organization within Congress that represents the passion, commitment, and broad support that surveillance reform enjoys from the American people.”

Fight for the Future co-director Tiffiniy Cheng said: “Today, tens of millions of Americans are changing their online activity and self-censoring in response to current warrantless surveillance practices, a widespread diminution of freedom of expression that has no place in a free society. Against the wishes of millions, a good part of Congress has been working for entrenched interests to the detriment of our basic rights and national security. The members of this caucus are leaders who understand the gravity of the public's call for reform, and it behooves the rest of Congress to follow in their footsteps.”

“In an era of escalating police violence, Black communities urgently need political leadership to protect us from illegal search and seizure, invasions of privacy, and other Fourth Amendment violations,” said Malkia Cyril, Director of the Center for Media Justice and co-founder of the Media Action Grassroots Network. “A bipartisan Fourth Amendment congressional caucus responds to the call of millions across this country to build the political will for new approaches to security and accountability that protect the constitutional rights of Black people and other communities of color.”

Ryan Hagemann, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Analyst at the Niskanen Center, said: “Government surveillance is among the most pressing issues today. Preserving our Constitutional rights is not a partisan issue: it's at the core of what we value most about America. To that end, the Fourth Amendment Caucus and Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee is a welcome bipartisan voice that will positively contribute to surveillance reform efforts.”

“The Fourth Amendment Caucus and the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee represent a new left-right alliance fighting to restore privacy as a foundational civil liberty for American Democracy,” stated Sascha Meinrath, President of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee Steering Board and Palmer Chair at Penn State University. “Conservatives and progressives vociferously agree -- it’s time to reclaim our right to privacy.”

The inaugural Congressional members of the Fourth Amendment Caucus include:

  • Justin Amash (R-MI)
  • Mo Brooks (R-AL)
  • Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
  • Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
  • Blake Farenthold (R-TX)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
  • Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
  • Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
  • Walter Jones (R-NC)
  • Jim Jordan (R-OH)
  • Hank Johnson (D-GA)
  • Dan Kildee (D-MI)
  • Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • John Lewis (D-GA)
  • Ted Lieu  (D-CA)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
  • Thomas Massie (R-KY)
  • Tom McClintock (R-CA)
  • Beto O'Rourke (D-TX)
  • Scott Perry (R-PA)
  • Ted Poe (R-TX)
  • Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • David Schweikert (R-AZ)

The inaugural steering board of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee includes (titles and organizations for identification purposes only):

  • Tiffiniy Cheng, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Fight for the Future
  • Malkia Cyril, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Media Justice
  • Sandra Fulton, Government Relations Manager, Free Press
  • Mike Godwin, R Street Institute
  • Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
  • Ryan Hagemann, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Analyst, Niskanen Center
  • Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab and Palmer Chair in Telecommunications, Penn State University
  • Yolanda Rondon, Staff Attorney, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Daniel Schuman, Policy Director, Demand Progress
  • Neil Siefring, Director of Government Relations, FreedomWorks
  • Sean Vitka, ex officio, Director, Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee
  • Marcy Wheeler, Independent Journalist and Founder, emptywheel.net
  • Josh Withrow, Director of Public Policy, Free the People

For additional information about the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, visit our website: www.fourthadvisory.org or contact the Committee at info@fourthadvisory.org. For more information about the Fourth Amendment Caucus, please contact the member offices.

 

Sean Vitka