Have there been measures in Congress that would limit the Patriot Act?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Yes, numerous bills have been introduced in Congress either to revoke or modify certain powers granted to law enforcement by the Patriot Act. These have included:

  • S. 1695 — Patriot Oversight Restoration Act of 2003 (introduced Oct. 1, 2003, by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.).
  • H.R. 3171 — Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act (introduced Sept. 24, 2003, by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio).
  • S. 1507 — Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act (introduced July 21, 2003, by Sen. Russ Feingold).
  • S. 1709 — Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (introduced Oct. 2, 2003, by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho).

Although none of the measures to curtail the Patriot Act have ever received congressional approval, some of the ideas outlined in them were incorporated into the bill Congress passed in March 2006 to renew the act. Members of Congress debated renewing provisions of the Patriot Act for more than six months before a compromise could be reached that balanced the concerns of supporters and opponents of the law. For example, individuals receiving Section 215 orders to disclose information are now able to challenge the “gag order” that accompanies it. This requirement is in line with court decisions that held that the gag orders were unconstitutional.