Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

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Action Alert

September 19: Call to Restore Habeas and the Fourth Amendment!

On Wednesday, September 19, we are asking you to join a National Call-in to Congress to reassert Fourth Amendment guards against unchecked government surveillance and the constitutionally guaranteed right of habeas corpus against two flatly unconstitutional laws--the Protect America Act (PAA) and the Military Commissions Act (MCA). The moment now is crucial, because this fall Congress plans to revisit their legalization of warrantless wiretapping and the stripping of habeas corpus. This is our chance to tell them, as part of a large national voice, that they must restore constitutional rights!

Each of the national coalition members listed below is urging its members to call Congress on a specific day. BORDC's day is Wednesday, September 19. Please do your part to make the phones ring in the halls of Congress on Wednesday--and all-week long!

In this message:

  • Background
  • Making Your Calls
  • See How Your Representatives Voted
  • Sample Call Script
  • Other organizations supporting the call-in week

Background

MCA--Several bills have already been introduced to correct the worst excesses of the MCA, but none has made it to the House or Senate floor for a vote. See BORDC's legislation page for summaries of current bills. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO-4th), chair of the House Armed Services Committees, is chief sponsor of H.R. 2826, to restore habeas corpus, which both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Armed Services Committee will soon be considering. With their support, the bill would go to the House floor for a vote. Talking points on restoring this 800-year-old protection against arbitrary and indefinite government detentions are available on the BORDC Call-in page.

PAA--House and Senate leadership have promised to "fix" the "Protect America Act" as early as this month. Your calls to your members of Congress may make the difference between cosmetic changes and a bill that restores our Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Talking points on cutting through the Administration's misleading statements are available on the BORDC Call-in page.

Make Your Calls

Please call both your Senators and your Representative this Wednesday, September 19th, and ask your friends to do the same.

  • Make sure your voice is heard. Help us assess our national impact by using the BORDC Call-in page, where you can find your legislators' direct Washington office phone numbers and report back how many calls you made and how they went. We'll report to Congress how many people spoke out on these two issues.

OR

  • Dial the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day).

Can't get through right away? Many people must be phoning Congress. Keep your calls coming! If you prefer not to wait, call the next day or look up the phone number for the district office.

See How Your Representatives Voted

Check these online roll call votes to see how your rep voted on these two egregious bills. We need to thank members of Congress who opposed the bills and to hold those who supported them, or who did not vote, accountable for restoring constitutional protections.
Military Commissions Act (S. 3930):

Protect America Act (S. 1927) here:

Sample Call Script

Your conversation may go something like this:

Staffer: Hi, this is Senator/Representative _____'s office.

You: Hello, this is [Your Name], from (Senator/Representative ______'s) district. I am calling today because I am very disappointed that Congress rushed to pass the Protect America Act before its August recess, without getting answers or key documents from the administration about its domestic surveillance programs. The Protect America Act guts the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was passed in 1978 to protect Americans from warrantless domestic surveillance by the executive branch. Congress must repeal this unconstitutional law.

Staffer: I'll be sure to pass that on.

You: One more thing. The Military Commissions Act denies non-U.S. citizens in U.S. custody the right to challenge their detentions before an impartial judge. The Military Commissions Act removed that right, undermining the presumption of innocence that used to guide our legal system, and allowing indefinite detentions without due process. This unconstitutional law must also be repealed. Please support the Restoring the Constitution Act and any other strong bill that restores the right of habeas corpus, such as the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act or Representative Ike Skelton's bill, H.R. 2826, which has recently been introduced in the House. Thank you.

Staffer: Okay, I'll be sure to let my boss know.

Other organizations supporting the call-in week (partial list) include the Alliance for Justice, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Council on American-Islamic Relations, DownsizeDC.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights First, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, No2Torture Network, People For the American Way, and Religious Action Center.

Thank you for all you do!

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

Nancy Talanian, Director
Ben Grosscup, East Region Organizer
Hope Marston, West Region Organizer
Susan Heitker, Administrator