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June 16, 2016

House Rejection of Massie-Lofgren Amendment Undermines Citizens' Fourth Amendment Liberties

  Institute for Policy Innovation

DALLAS - In a statement, Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) president Tom Giovanetti warned that by rejecting the Massie-Lofgren amendment to the defense spending bill, the U.S. House of Representatives is undermining Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections.

"I commend Reps. Massie and Lofgren for their amendment to the defense spending bill, which would have banned the NSA from asking for backdoor access and weakened encryption.

Americans have the right to have our digital papers and digital houses as secure as our analog papers and houses, as any reasonable interpretation of the Fourth Amendment would demand. That’s why at the same time we oppose broad attempts to defeat encryption on mobile devices and are asking the federal government to enhance digital privacy through updating the Email Privacy Act.

The federal government seeks greatly expanded police power to combat threats, and in recent years, it’s been dramatically confirmed that if Congress gives the federal government these powers to collect massive amounts of information on innocent Americans citizens without respecting Fourth Amendment restrictions, the federal government will do exactly that.

The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to counter this inexorable tendency toward expanded police power for government. If our elected officials, who are supposed to be guardians of our freedom first of all, grant expanded police powers to the federal government in violation of their oath to preserve and protect the Fourth Amendment, the Feds will use them.

The fact that we crave safety and security means there will always be a tendency to give more power to those whose job it is to protect us. The problem, of course, is that these agencies, and the people who staff them, are imperfect, and subject to the same temptations and incentives as anyone else. That’s why the Constitution places limits on government in its law enforcement efforts just as it does upon government’s other duties and functions. 
Thomas Jefferson once said, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it." In the American system, we purposely tilt the playing field toward liberty rather than toward government power. It’s a feature, not a bug. 
The law enforcement function is vital to a safe and secure society, but keeping law enforcement within constitutional limits is vital to a free society. We can have both."


The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or 



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