Bill of rights what happened to ye?
August 19, 2007 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a list of changes wrought on the Bill of Rights by the Patriot Act, amendment by amendment.

A side by side comparison of the Bill of Rights, with the damage done by the Patriot Act to each specific amendment.

My googling fails me.
posted by Max Power to Law & Government (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That's fairly specific. There may not be a side-by-side comparison such as you describe published on the web. However, if there isn't I think there probably are some sites things out there that could make putting a side-by-side comparison together fairly easy.

Off the top of my head, two of the first places I'd look would be TPM Muckraker and Balkinization.
posted by JustDerek at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2007

Acts of Congress amend the U.S. Code, not the Constitution or its amendments. A particular Act of Congress may be a betrayal of the Constitution, or an attack on its provisions, but it cannot effect any "changes [to] the Bill of Rights", and cannot, in theory, damage any of them.

A constitutional challenge to a particular provision, if successful, would invalidate that provision because it is repugnant to the Constitution. If a judge made a wrong decision on such a challenge, that would represent a failure to enforce the Constitution. In either case, the Constitution remains as supreme law, even though it may have to wait for a more faithful servant.

Judges are somewhat like Catholic priests in this respect. Even though an individual priest may fail in his duty to God and to man, God's authority still remains.
posted by yclipse at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

This isn't exactly what you asked for but several years ago, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate did a good summary of the provisions of the Patriot Act and how it would effect citizens. You can find it here in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
posted by mmascolino at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2007

yclipse makes a good point. The Patriot Act doesn't actually change the BoR. What you'll want to look for are discussions of provisions in the Act that could potentially be enacted in such a way that they would conflict with the interpreted meaning of one of the amendments that make up the BoR. Of course, the meaning of the amendments is mutable and has shifted over time, so the potential list of conflicts will depend on whose interpretation you're going with. I'm sure many people in the White House will say that there are no conflicts and have reasons for stating that, while I would disagree quite vehemently. It would probably be useful first to look at the provisions of the BoR and the reasonable range of contemporary interpretations in constitutional law of the protections that it offers, and then compare to possible infringements of those protections in specific provisions of the Patriot Act. And IANAConstitutionalLawyer, but it seems that the 10th amendment would be the most often violated one, but I don't get the sense that it is invoked very often, or ever, so it seems to have kind of fallen by the wayside.
posted by papakwanz at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2007

I think I may be asking for too much, but I know I saw somewhere a comparative list of the BoR and the damage or "assaults" on it by the Bush admin.

At this point though I'm sure it included the Military Commissions Act as well ( the one that set up separate courts for and defined "enemy combatants").

Pardon me for not being specific enough. For some reason I keep thinking it was John Dean who posted it, yet I can't find it at all.

Thank you folks.
posted by Max Power at 1:19 PM on August 19, 2007

For that, you may want to start at
posted by yclipse at 1:29 PM on August 19, 2007

The problem is that many of the most alarming potential abridgments of rights are in contained in signing statements and executive orders.
posted by RavinDave at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2007

You may find this Cato Institute report helpful:
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:39 PM on August 19, 2007

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