A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING AMENDING OR ELIMINATING SELECT PROVISIONS OF THE PATRIOT ACT TO THE EXTENT THAT THOSE SECTIONS CONFLICT WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, PRINCIPLES OF FEDERALISM, AND CIVIL LIBERTIES.
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI believes there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty, and affirms its strong support of the rights of Americans to be both safe and free; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI recognizes the Constitution of the United States as our nation’s charter of liberty, and that the Bill of Rights enshrines the fundamental and inalienable rights of America, including the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, privacy; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI has a distinguished record of upholding the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and safeguarding the freedoms and rights of American residents; and
WHEREAS, on September 11, 2001, terrorists from abroad attacked the U.S. by commandeering four commercial airliners, destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, significantly damaged the Pentagon, and caused another jetliner crash resulting in significant civilian casualties; and
WHEREAS, the terrorist attack was an attack on a nation that is home to a diverse population and plunged the nation into deep concern regarding its national security and vulnerability to future attacks; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI condemns all terrorist acts wherever occurring; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI believes that efforts to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism require extensive coordination, cooperation, and accountability among governments at the federal, state, and local level; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI recognizes that protecting our citizens against future terrorist attacks requires the federal government to aggressively pursue potential terrorists but these efforts to combat terrorism should not disproportionately infringe on the essential civil rights and liberties of the people of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the prevention of future terrorists attacks is a critical national priority, but it is equally important to preserve the fundamental civil liberties and personal freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights over 200 years ago, and which have been preserved through a constant vigilance against periodic threats to its principles; and
WHEREAS, in response to the terrorist attacks, on October 26, 2001, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law, the USA PATRIOT Act, an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,” by a Senate vote of 98-1 and House of Representative vote of 357-66; and
WHEREAS, the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI believes that a number of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act has the potential to threaten fundamental rights and civil liberties, including:
· Section 213 which permits law enforcement to perform searches with no one present and to delay notification of the search of a citizen’s home;
· Section 215 which permits the FBI Director to seek records from bookstores and libraries including books of patrons based on minimal evidence of wrongdoing and prohibits librarians and bookstore employees from disclosing the fact that they have been ordered to produce such documents;
· Section 218 which amends the “”probable cause”” requirement before conducting secret searches or surveillance to obtain evidence of a crime;
· Sections 215, 218, 358, and 508 which permit law enforcement authorities to have broad access to sensitive mental health, library, business, financial, and educational records despite the existence of previously adopted state and federal laws which were intended to strengthen the protection of these types of records;
· Sections 411 and 412 which give the Secretary of State broad powers to designate domestic groups as “”terrorist organizations”” and the Attorney General power to subject immigrants to indefinite detention or deportation even if no crime has been committed; and
· Sections 507 and 508 which impose an unfunded mandate on state and local public universities who must collect information on students that may be of interest to the Attorney General.
WHEREAS, new legislation has been drafted entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) (also known as PATRIOT II) which contains numerous new sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers, many of which are not related to terrorism, and which would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights; and
WHEREAS, the Council understands that in response to the threats against civil liberties embodied in certain provisions of the PATRIOT ACT, legislation has been introduced in the U. S. House and Senate that would roll back certain provisions of the PATRIOT ACT.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI:
1. AFFIRMS its strong support for fundamental constitutional rights and its opposition to any federal measures that infringe on civil liberties.
2. AFFIRMS its strong support for all human rights and opposes measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their country of origin.
3. REQUEST public schools and institutions of higher learning within the City of Jackson to provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
4. REQUEST public libraries within the City of Jackson to post in a prominent place within the library a notice to library users as follows: “”NOTICE: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. That federal law prohibits librarians from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you. Questions about this policy should be directed to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530 “”;
5. Directs the City Clerk to transmit a copy of this resolution to President George Bush, U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, U. S. Senators Lott and Cochran, and U. S. Representatives Taylor, Thompson, Pickering and Wicker, accompanied by a letter urging them to monitor the implementation of the Act and any Executive Orders designed to implement this Act and actively work for the repeal of the Act or those sections of the Act and any Executive Orders that violate, threaten, or infringe fundamental rights and liberties as stated in the United States Constitution and its Amendments.
6. REQUEST all public libraries to have a policy that ensures the regular destruction of records that identify the name of the book borrower after the book is returned, or that identify the name of the Internet user after completion of Internet use;
7. ADVISES all persons in local businesses and institutions, and particularly booksellers, to refrain when possible from keeping records that identify the name of the purchaser, and to regularly destroy such records that are maintained, in order to protect intellectual privacy rights; and
8. DIRECTS the City Clerk to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Mississippi Governor, and appropriate members of the Mississippi State Legislature, accompanied by a letter urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties as described in this resolution.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI supports the U.S. campaign against terrorism, but the CITY OF JACKSON affirms its commitment to the U.S. Constitution and respective state constitutions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI urges the U.S. President, and federal executive branch members to review, revise and rescind executive orders and policies adopted since the terrorist attacks, that limit or compromise the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI strongly urges the U.S. Congress to amend the PATRIOT ACT in order to restore, maintain, and protect our nation’s fundamental and inalienable rights and liberties; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI supports the “Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003″” that seeks to reinstate legal standards for libraries and bookstores and the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act which would require a court order before conducting electronic surveillance; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI supports the sunset of key provisions of the PATRIOT Act and increased Congressional oversight over the role of the agencies responsible for enforcing the law; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI calls on the U. S. Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, and other related federal agencies to partner with cities to protect our hometowns while simultaneously preserving the liberties of Americans; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the U.S. President, the U.S. Attorney General, and to each member of the U.S. Congress.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.