Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Resolution condemns Patriot Act

April 21, 2004


The Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday approved a resolution condemning the Patriot Act, a federal anti-terrorism law passed in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.

In doing so, Lawrence becomes the first community in Kansas to go on the record in opposition to the act.

"I think our acting on this tonight will be a timely exercise," Commissioner David Schauner said, noting Congress soon would consider renewing some Patriot Act provisions. "It does express ... our support for constitutional rights."

Schauner was joined by Mayor Mike Rundle and Commissioners Boog Highberger and David Dunfield in support; Commissioner Sue Hack was the lone opponent.

Lawrence joins nearly 300 communities and four state legislatures across the United States in expressing opposition to the act.

Critics say the Patriot Act infringes on civil liberties. Defenders have said it gives federal authorities broader powers needed to fight terrorism.

The resolution was supported by local chapters of the League of Women Voters and American Civil Liberties Union.

"The protection of civil liberties should continue to be the foundation upon which our democracy rests," said Caleb Morse, president of the league's Douglas County chapter.

No one spoke Tuesday against the resolution or in favor of the Patriot Act.

The resolution lists provisions of the federal law that should be repealed, including those that allow the FBI to seek records from libraries and bookstores. The resolution also directs the Lawrence Public Library to put up signs warning patrons their checkout records could end up in federal hands.

Commissioners rejected suggestions, however, that they direct city employees, including the police, not to cooperate with federal authorities acting under the Patriot Act.

Hack said she did not believe a resolution was the proper way to register concerns with federal authorities. "We've never lobbied them by resolution," she said, "and I don't think it's appropriate to do in this arena."

The resolution will be forwarded to President Bush and the Kansas congressional delegation.

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