Warren Mass

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled on May 7 that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of U.S. call records is illegal, stating that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow such bulk collection of domestic calling records.

 

In a last-ditch bid to save the Patriot Act, which has been condemned by many members of Congress for its overreaching authorization of domestic spying in the name of national security, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has postponed debate on the controversial law until the week of May 25, days before it expires on May 31.

 

Speaking in Las Vegas on May 5, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that her plan for immigration reform included a way to provide illegal aliens with a way to achieve citizenship. 

 

As the Supreme Court considers how to rule on Obergefell v. Hodges — a case challenging marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, for which it heard oral arguments on April 28 — Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) has introduced legislation that would strip the High Court from deciding cases related to marriage.

 

Senator Johnny Isakson recently advocated passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) while Senator Jeff Sessions posted a “Critical Alert” articulating his concerns with TPA.

 

 

On April 30, the House Judiciary Committee approved the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 25-2. A description of the legislation on the Judiciary Committee website notes that it would prohibit bulk collection of all records under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, prevent government overreach, and establish procedures for individual companies to challenge nondisclosure orders. The vote allows the bill, H.R. 2048, to go to the House floor for a vote, where passage is expected later this month.

 

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced on April 30 that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. A self-described “Democratic socialist,” Sanders generally caucused with Democrats during his career in Congress, but sometimes took a stance on foreign policy and personal liberty issues that put him at odds with the party establishment. In making his announcement, Sanders said he would run as an “independent Democrat,” because of the difficulties in running as a third-party candidate.

 

As of April 20, federal immigration officials had deported 127,378 illegal aliens, which works out to a little over 500,000 deportations a year. In contrast, a report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) back in 2013 noted that total deportations in 2011 (the latest year for which complete numbers were available at the time) numbered 715,495, which, itself, was the lowest level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record, reported CIS, was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.

Several immigration-related bills have largely stalled in the Texas legislature, including one to end in-state college tuition rates for illegal aliens.

An estimated 10,000 people marched in the third annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on April 25. The event was organized by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which defines it mission as “work[ing] to defend marriage and the faith communities that sustain it at the local, state, and national levels.”