Police State/Civil Liberties

Rand Paul and the Tripartisan Case for Optimism

By Lucy Steigerwald


On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) “filibustered” for more than ten hours against the PATRIOT Act, the USA Freedom Act, and myriad government violations of the Fourth Amendment. He also daringly added some blistering critiques of the US prison state and its racial disparities. He mentioned civil asset forfeiture and parallel construction. He read from articles by Judge Andrew Napolitano, journalist Radley Balko, and writers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He talked about Richard Jewell, Japanese internment, and other historical proof that innocent until proven guilty takes a lot of vacation days in America. In short, Rand said a lot of things that were true and necessary to say.

In his efforts to let section 215 of PATRIOT expire (as it is set to do on June 1), Paul was backed by a bipartisan team of Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), with a few other senatorial guest stars popping in as well – mostly Democrats, it turns out! (Sens. Cruz and Rubio took their time to show up, but appeared for a victory lap.)

You might note that the word filibuster is in quotes above. There was some debate over whether Paul’s chattiness actually construed an official filibuster, since the senator interrupted a trade debate, not the actual debate over the sunshining aspects of USA PATRIOT. And the fact that Paul stopped talking minutes before midnight seemed to puzzle even the knowledgeable folks of twitter, so it is not just me not getting the master plan at work here.


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