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Conservatives Urge Senator Lee on 4th Amendment Protections

Senator Mike Lee

One hundred conservatives from across the country sent Senator Mike Lee a letter urging him to abolish the use of “judge-less” administrative subpoenas to obtain emails of Americans.

Senator Lee is cosponsor of “Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015,” which represents that it “requires the government to obtain a warrant from a court before requiring providers to disclose the content of [email] communications.”

However, the bill actually does not require judges to issue warrants before government obtains our emails, but allows government agencies such as the DEA, NSA, EPA, EEOC, SEC, FTC, etc. to bypass judges and unilaterally issue their own subpoenas, and without probable cause, in violation of the express language of the Fourth Amendment.

Mark Fitzgibbons, a CHQ contributor and constitutional lawyer, said, “Senator Lee is one of the best and brightest constitutionalists in all Congress, which is why we must rely on him to get it right on the Fourth Amendment.  Just as the judge in the Wilkes case he cites in his book, Our Lost Constitution, overturned bad search and seizure precedent in favor of the English constitution, we need conservative leaders who will reclaim our Constitution.”


The letter signed by 100 conservative is reprinted here:

June 2, 2015

The Honorable Mike Lee
316 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515


Re:  Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015


Dear Senator Lee:

The bill summary of S. 356, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015, reads in relevant part that it:

“Requires the government to obtain a warrant from a court before requiring providers to disclose the content of such communications regardless of how long the communication has been held in electronic storage by an electronic communication service or whether the information is sought from an electronic communication service or a remote computing service.”

Section 3 of the actual text of the bill, however, allows for judgeless administrative subpoenas to obtain those emails, which are private property even if lacking some “privacy” because they are shared by private parties, but not the government.

So, the government really doesn’t need to obtain a warrant from a judge to obtain emails.  Instead, attorneys general and various state bureaucracies, plus the DEA, NSA, EPA, EEOC, SEC, FTC, etc. can issue their own judge-less warrants without oath and affirmation before a neutral judge or magistrate, and without probable cause, yet get our emails.

The Fourth Amendment is not just about preventing “general warrants,” of course.

A warrant for searches or seizures is a judicial act, wrote 17th century English jurist Matthew Hale in his History of Pleas of the Crown, first published in 1736 after his death.

In a confidential memo before the 1763 Wilkes trial of which you write brilliantly in your recent book, Chief Justice Pratt wrote to William Pitt that abolishing the Secretary of State warrants might cancel a weapon necessary to national security.  If compelled, Pratt warned, he would nevertheless rule on Secretary warrants, and that he would come out decisively against them. (Source:  William J. Cuddihy, THE FOURTH AMENDMENT: Origins and Original Meanings 602 - 1791.)

Chief Justice Pratt ruled that Lord Halifax’s warrants were “unconstitutional, illegal . . . absolutely void,” and wrote, “No precedents, no legal determinations, not an act of Parliament itself is sufficient to warrant any proceeding contrary to the spirit of the constitution.” He then struck down warrants issued by Secretary of State Lord Halifax, which were authorized by Parliament and had been used for 80 years.

Those were the precursors to today's judge-less administrative warrants, which too have been used for 80 years in violation of the separation of powers inherent in the Fourth Amendment, and in violation of the requirements of oath and affirmation, and probable cause.  Only judges may hear oaths necessary to issue warrants, which seemed clear to Sir Matthew Hale and Chief Justice Pratt, and thus was clear to the adopters of the Fourth Amendment.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that his office would no longer issue these administrative subpoenas, saying, "The wholesale writing yourself a note to go after that stuff without any check is too dangerous and the potential for abuse becomes too dangerous."  He’s right; they are dangerous.

We applaud your steps to protect the Fourth Amendment, but we hope that you would act to abolish judge-less administrative subpoenas, and help Americans truly reclaim the Fourth Amendment.

With kind regards, we are


Very truly yours,

Mark J. Fitzgibbons                          Manassas, VA

Gary Fletcher                                    Amarillo, TX

Gregory Fisher                                  MD

Elizabeth Caserta                              Diamondhead, MS

Michael Elkin                                    NY

Thomas Gray                                    Potomac Falls, VA

Daniel Andritsch                               Burlington, WI

John Grimes                                    Davidsonville, MD

Hon. & Mrs. Paul Deis, Esq. III         AK

Mary Husen                                     Delaplane, VA

Roger Rugotska                                Sandia Park, NM

Camille Francisco                             Pittsburgh, PA

Robert Clyne                                    Yale, MI

Jim Hix                                             Plano, TX

Brian Welch                                       Smyrna, TN

Gary Perkins                                     Gallipolis, OH

Sheri Glaros                                      South Pasadena, CA

George Getz                                     Vienna, VA

Helen Mary Warren                          Jamaica Plain, MA

Colleen Hall                                     Greer, SC

James M. Draws Sr.                         AK

Thomas Gray                                    Potomac Falls, VA

Mitch Counts                                    Franklin, TN

Fernando Hernandez Jr.                    FL

Edward Durfee                                  Northvale, NJ

Mark Mazurik                                   AK

Felix Bronstein                                 Brooklyn, NY

Maggi Warren                                   Jamaica Plain, MA

Nancy Limpar                                   Elwood, IL

Tamara Foran                                   Marana, AZ

Theodore Cole                                  Irving, TX

David Pomeroy                                 Wichita, KS

Kevin Guerrero                                 Miami, FL

Steven Scheye                                 Martinez, CA

Kathleen Baker                                 Yelm, WA

Philip W. Starr                                  Groveport, OH

Brian Laddy                                      SC

Douglas Robinson                            AK

Robert Yeary                                    Las Vegas, AK

Tom Kilgannon                                 Dulles, VA

Phil Bolles                                         San Diego, CA

Eric Ellis                                           Franklin, NC

Hampden White                                Baton Rouge, LA

Annie Provence                                 Amarillo, TX

Sue Long                                           North, VA

Anne Mccammon                              Moorpark, CA

Donald Mitchell                                Hayes, VA

Carolyn Carpenter                            Cobbs Creek, VA

Christopher Vanlue                          Neosho, MO

Daniel Mcnicoll                                 Dammeron Valley, UT

Andrew Maggard                              Port Haywood, VA

Patricia Evans                                   Danville, VA

Vann Fleming                                   AK

Mike Mcgraw                                    AK

Lucy Pehl                                          Fredericksburg, TX

Paul Blumstein                                  AK

Bruce Desautels                                Stratton, NE

Lynette Miesen                                  Niceville, FL

Ann Robeson                                    Yorktown, VA

Laurence Fritz                                   TX

John Trulio                                       AK

Cheryl Llittle                                     Chandler, AZ

Mary Leedom                                    Seaford, VA

Sandra Booth                                    Hilton Head Island, SC

Bob Barr                                           Atlanta, GA

Juanita Coffelt                                  Chesterfield, VA

Patricia Miles                                    Port Haywood, VA

John Schwarzenbach                         Queen Creek, AZ

Fred Penar                                        North Fort Myers, FL

Melanie Miles                                    Port Haywood, VA

John Mashler                                    AZ

Gary Meredith                                  AK

James Beauchamp                           Virginia Beach, VA

Lucy Clark                                        Hoisington, KS

Sue Hughes                                       Perry, KS

Sally Waller                                        Kinston, NC

Sandy Miles                                       Gordon, TX

Sande Reattoir                                  Varnell, GA

Don Parsons                                       Austin, TX

Robert Awerkamp                                Maple Hill, KS

Donald Mccormick                           Portland, OR

John Hanko                                         Drums, PA

Dave Herbert                                    AK

Carol Metzger                                   Kents Store, VA

Clair Corriveau                                 Holiday, FL

 D Jones-Williams                             St. Paul, MN

Erica Harris                                       Sachse, TX

Rev. Bob Tilley                                 Holly Ridge, NC

Linda Jamison                                   Honeoye Falls, NY

Julius Smoak                                    Memphis, TN

James Mullins                                   St. Simons Island, GA

Michelle Lemal                                  Weirton, WV

Charles Daniel                                  Menifee, CA

Jean Lambkin                                    Woodville, TX

Twyla Bacon                                     Leon, KS

Patricia Tseplaev                              Myrtle beach, SC

Kathleen Mccarthy                              Norfolk, VA

Frederic Hilnbrand                               Baltimore, MD

Michael Elkin                                    AK

Donald Mathison                              Lacey, WA

David Toms                                      AK

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4th Amendment

Frankly, I'm tired of all the uproar centered on the email privacy while completely ignoring the Jackboot of the IRS. While we have all become indentured servants of the Commie State the best conservatives can do is complain about email privacy.

It is not really 'Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness', it is Life, Liberty and Property that defines freedom. I can't name a single political leader among the conservatives that seemed concerned about the 2/3rds of federal spending that is well outside of the Enumerated Powers. The Commie State spending that is impoverishing us and ruining the strength of character that self-sufficiency builds.

It is NOT the privacy issue that is leading our country into the moral and financial abyss, it is the Commie State...sometimes called the Nanny State or Welfare State.