GOP privacy advocates hold their fire on Brett Kavanaugh

GOP privacy advocates hold their fire on Brett Kavanaugh

Gun Rights

Republican senators who strongly opposed the government’s collection of domestic call records say they still are reviewing the record of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who authored a broad defense of the program. Many senators viewed the National Security Agency’s call record dragnet as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and Congress voted to end the once-secret collection months before Kavanaugh authored a 2015 concurrent opinion find it legal. Kavanaugh wrote the collection wasn’t a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, citing the third-party doctrine of the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland . But he added if it was a “search," authorities still could take the records without a warrant because there was a “special need” in preventing terrorism, overriding privacy interests. Although the program stored call records for five years for potential later use in intelligence investigations, a 2014 report from the Privacy and CIvil LIberties Oversight Board said there was no evidence it ever led to the detection of a terrorist plot. Republicans hold just 51 seats in the Senate, and with the ill Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., not expected to vote, even one GOP defection could threaten Kavanaugh, particularly if Democrats unite in opposition. But so far, libertarian-leaning privacy members have withheld judgment. Opposition to NSA mass surveillance programs is bipartisan, with libertarian and progressive lawmakers generally struggling to restrain the authorities against centrist backers of broad collection powers. In the Senate, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, led opponents of collection […]

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