Community Resolution for Lawrence Township, NJ

Document Date: July 6, 2004

Resolution No. 253-04

Resolution Regarding the
USA Patriot Act

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of September 11, 2002, increased security is necessary to protect the American people, to attempt to thwart further terrorist attacks and to effectively wage a campaign against terrorism; and

WHEREAS, it is essential that, in providing such increased security, governmental agencies undertake only such security measures as are reasonable and necessary and do not undermine the fundamental rights and liberties which make this nation unique and great, such as freedom of speech, religion and assembly, the right to privacy, due process and equal protection of law, and the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56), threatens such fundamental rights and liberties as are embodied in the Constitution of the United States and the amendments thereunto; and

WHEREAS, examples of the PATRIOT Act’s threat to these fundamental rights include the Government’s expanded power to: engage in telephone, internet and other telecommunications surveillance with limited judicial supervision; grant law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records with little, if any, judicial oversight; expand the government’s ability to conduct secret searches of individuals’ homes and businesses, including monitoring what books are bought form bookstores or borrowed form libraries; and limit the disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act; and

WHEREAS, the PATRIOT Act was adopted in some haste following September 11, 2001, without public hearings, or a Congressional ‘mark-up’; and it would be appropriate and beneficial, in considering reauthorization, to scrutinize and evaluate the provisions of the Act closely in context of its enforcement and implementation to date; and

WHEREAS, the Lawrence Township Council recognizes that a threat to any one person’s Constitutional rights is a threat to the rights of all and the Constitutional rights of Lawrence Township residents have been threatened; and

WHEREAS, the PATRIOT Act is, or soon will be, reconsidered by Congress for possible reauthorization and to determine whether various sunset provisions contained therein should be eliminated or retained; and

WHEREAS, over 315 communities and four states representing approximately 51.1 million people throughout the country have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of government policies that threaten these values; and

WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives voted 309-118 in July 2003 not to allocate funds in the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary appropriations bill to fund the so-called ‘sneak and peek’ searches and seizures allowed by Section 213 of the PATRIOT Act;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Lawrence, County of Mercer in the State of New Jersey as follows:

1. The Township Council reaffirms its support for increased security of the public but also reaffirms its conviction that such security must not be provided in a manner that would unduly infringe upon the constitutional and other rights and liberties of the people of the United States. Security must be executed in a fashion that preserves and reaffirms these rights and liberties as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

2. The Township Council is concerned about the enforcement and implementation to date of the PATRIOT Act by United States Attorney General Ashcroft and other public officials insofar as the impact upon such rights and liberties are concerned.

3. The Township Council accordingly:

a. calls upon the government of the United States, and the government of each and every State and the political subdivisions thereof, when enforcing or when called upon to enforce the PATRIOT Act and any other law or regulation dealing with security, to respect individual rights and not intrude upon the fundamental rights and liberties of the people of the United States.

b. calls upon our Congressional Representatives and Senators to allow all provisions of the PATRIOT Act with a sunset date to expire on that sunset date and to thoroughly scrutinize and evaluate through the public hearing process: (1) all provisions of the Act; (2) the record of enforcement and implementation of the Act to date and (3) any such similar proposed legislation.

c. directs the Municipal Clerk to communicate this resolution to the Mercer County Executive and the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders; to the elected representatives of Lawrence Township in the New Jersey Legislature and the United States Congress; to the Governor and Attorney General of the State of New Jersey; and to the United States Attorney General and the President of the United States.

Adopted: July 6, 2004

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