There are over 4000,000 regulations on the books. It’s believed the average American commits three felonies a day. But don’t worry – there’s no way a corrupt federal government will target you! Thankfully, Americans had a small victory for freedom when a federal court ruled the NSA overstepped congressional authority with their collection of bulk phone data under the Patriot ACT. Senator Rand Paul joined Glenn on radio to discuss this huge step towards freedom and other news of the day.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment:
GLENN: Yesterday, the NSA, the Domestic Spying Program was deemed illegal by an appeals court. And we have Senator Rand Paul on the phone with us. Congratulations, Senator Paul. I know this is something you’ve been working tireless on. How are you, sir?
RAND: Yeah, Glenn, thanks.
You know, about a year ago, I sued the NSA and the president and Eric Holder on this. The Fourth Amendment is very explicit. It says you have to name the person. You have to name the things you want. You got to have probable cause, and then you have to ask a judge for permission. And one of the reasons we did that is, we didn’t want to allow general warrants, where you can be rounded up because of your ethnicity, rounded up because of your religion, rounded up because of your political beliefs. It had to be individualized.
It was what John Adams said — it was the spark that led to the American Revolution. When James Otis fought against these generalized warrants. So, yeah, it’s a big deal for the court now to agree and say they’re illegal. I really though want this to go to the Supreme Court. And I want the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality on whether or not a general warrant is constitutional or not.
GLENN: This is surprising to me. I don’t know enough about the courts. You probably know much more. This is the second US Court of Appeals. And if I’m not mistaken, isn’t there two appointees from Obama and one from Clinton. So this isn’t like the Fifth Circuit Court. This is — this is — you know, the left is part of this court as well.
RAND: I’m not sure of the composition, because I think sometimes there’s more judges than that. I think there’s actually more judges in the appellate court than the three.
GLENN: I’m saying that the three-panel judge — the three judges on the panel, Clinton-appointed judge and two Obama-appointed judges.
RAND: Yeah, that could well be on this. And there’s more that could be picked. But these particular three, I think you’re correct.
The ultimate question though is that: In order for it to be enforceable ruling across the country, it needs to come from the Supreme Court. My understanding is that this decision will be sent back to the lower court. It won’t necessarily go to the Supreme Court. So we’re still sort of working and fighting to get this to the Supreme Court level. Because there’s a really important question here, and that’s whether or not a warrant can have somebody’s name Mr. Verizon. And I tell people in a tongue-in-cheek way in speeches that I don’t know anybody named Mr. Verizon.
So can you put the name of a business and yet get hundreds of millions of individuals’ records who do business with that particular business? And I think that’s where the question is: Does the Fourth Amendment requirement to individualize, to put a person’s name on it, does that qualify, or does this sound suspiciously like a general warrant?
GLENN: So there’s really no teeth to this, is there? I mean, there was no injunction. They don’t have to stop. This was just like, yep, that’s against the law.
RAND: It will have an important ramification for this reason. They’re saying that the Patriot Act, as passed, does not cover in a statutory way, does not give authority for this bulk collection of phone records. The reason this is interesting is, is that Senator Wyden and I have a bill to end the bulk collection. But we don’t reauthorize any part of 215, and we don’t acknowledge that 215 allows this. There’s a competing version of this called the USA Freedom Act, and it would actually replace this and give new statutory authority. So there’s actually a danger that the reform that lurks out there, if it passes, would actually give affirmative legal justification for this program. So I think everybody needs to really think long and hard about whether the reform that’s out there will actually be good or bad. I think it’s better just to tell the government they can’t do bulk collection, rather than replacing it with something that may give new authority.
GLENN: Two questions. First, have you ever had to run to a trash can to vomit in it every time you hear something like the Patriot Act or the Freedom Act. I mean, it is so — you know there’s trouble whenever it comes out with the Everybody Likes Ice Cream Act, you know it’s deadly.
RAND: Yeah, whatever the acronym is, the more benign sounding, the actually more dastardly it is the closer you read the text.
GLENN: Okay. So do you have any confidence at all — I mean, Mitch McConnell, I’m sorry, but, you know, as we call him here, he’s a turtle head. Because he looks like a turtle head. And I defy you to look at him and not laugh because he looks exactly like a turtle. You expect his head to go in past his shoulders. But that’s a different story. Notice there’s no laughter there. He’s very smart.
STU: He’s smart.
GLENN: So you — Mitch McConnell is already trying to, you know, push a clean extension of the Patriot Act. He’s not really on the side of — of you on this. And of us.
RAND: There is a division within the Republican Party. There’s also division in the country. But the interesting thing is, when you look at my numbers versus Hillary Clinton in purple states, the reason we’re winning the independent vote is because I am for the right to privacy. I am for the Fourth Amendment. And we’re getting a large segment of the youth vote and of the independent vote. So I don’t know, I think the Republican Party needs to be open to our point of view.
GLENN: But they don’t seem to be.
RAND: Well, up here, they’re not. In Washington, they’re not. But go out anywhere in Texas and go to a large crowd and ask them, do you think the government should be collecting all your phone records without a warrant without your name on it? And I’ll bet you 75, 80 percent of Republicans — I’ve been there. I’ve been to Lincoln Day dinners in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston. And when I give those lines, I get a rousing cheer and often a standing ovation saying, the government — it’s none of your damn business what you do on your phone or with your phone records. And so I think the people outside of Washington are different than people in Washington.
GLENN: I know that.
RAND: I’ll give you another quick example. I had an amendment that said, no more American tax dollars through foreign aid to countries that persecute Christians. Countries that put Christians to death or put Christians in jail for life. For blasphemy. Interfaith marriage. Or apostasy. And I lost the vote 18-2. Eighteen people in Washington said we should continue it. Two said no. But if I poll that question anywhere in America, it’s 99 percent of Americans say, hell, no, we shouldn’t send our money to countries that persecute Christians.
GLENN: That’s unbelievable. But that would include China as well. I mean, that is — you want to talk about picking a fight, and God bless you for doing it, but that’s a fight-picking question.
RAND: And here’s the interesting thing, as rich as China is and as much as we have a trade deficit with them, we do send money to China. Not foreign aid. We send them economic development assistance. Because they really need some economic development over there.
GLENN: Yeah, don’t they? Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that would require congressional authorization on any deal the president would make with Iran. Is the House — it’s going over to the House. Will the House pass this, and does this have any teeth?
RAND: It’s a big victory in this sense. The president for the last six months to a year is saying, we don’t get any say. He’s been he’s going to send it directly to the UN. He’s been saying, this is an agreement and there’s no congressional authority at all. Well, when enough Democrats told him otherwise, all the Republicans were saying otherwise, but when enough Democrats got on board and he knew he would have his veto overturned, he changed his tune, support the bill, and it passed 99-1. Can it stop him? The only thing that can stop him, the only thing that can do anything to the president when you disagree with him is 67 votes. Because it takes 67 votes to overturn a veto. So some people are complaining whether this is disapproval or approval. The bottom line is, any scenario that you want to stop a president that disagrees with you on any piece of legislation or any kind of foreign agreement, it takes 67 votes. But the fact that this was 99-1, there is a chance that there could be 67 votes saying the deal with Iran is not a good deal. This is a good bipartisan way of getting to the next step. Which is, if we were to get rebuked with more than 67 votes, it would be the end of the presidency. He would get nothing done the rest of the year and he would be completely without any capacity to get anything done, which would be good for the country.
PAT: Why is that the case? Why would one vote like that, shut him down so badly?
RAND: I think it’s because it’s very, very rare that people don’t vote in partisan lockstep. So I think if there were a vote that rebuked him. This one was a rebuke, but he changed his mind and said I’m for it. But if the Iranian deal comes forward and people have doubts — and this is my biggest doubt is that the Iranians are not sincere, credible partners because they tweet out in English the opposite of what apparently the Americans say the agreement means. The other thing that concerns me is when the president’s spokesman comes forward, Josh Earnest, comes forward and says, oh, well, it looks like — yeah, they’ll continue to probably be involved with terrorism after they sign this agreement. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether or not we’re having a sincere two-party agreement here. But I think if that’s shot down and the Democrats say this also, it really goes to the heart of whether the president really leads his party anymore.
GLENN: Let me talk to you a little about freedom of speech. And what happened here in Texas. The media was all for the cartoonists in France. And so was I. Even though I disagreed with the cartoons. I personally don’t think we should be mocking each other’s religion. Those were very offensive cartoons. But they have a right to do it. And so I stood by them. And I stand by them. Same thing with Pamela Geller. I don’t necessarily agree with the cartoon contest. And I wouldn’t have, you know, done that myself. But she has a right to do that.
The press is coming after Pamela Geller. And saying that, you know, she was just inciting hatred and that it was not freedom of speech. Any comment on that?
RAND: Well, you know, I like the pundits or the constitutional critics that say the First Amendment really isn’t about easy speech. It’s about speech you find despicable. It’s about speech you find offensive. That’s the hard thing to allow that to happen in a free society. And I agree with you. I think it doesn’t serve any purpose. You can talk about the First Amendment without doing things that are really offensive to other people’s religion. But in our country, that’s part of one of our basic freedoms is the right to be wrong. The right to be offensive. And the right to say things that people find despicable. Now, you don’t you have to pay for them. You don’t have to have them in your building, if it’s your building.
GLENN: It’s the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s the Westboro Baptist Church.
GLENN: I despise the Westboro Baptist Church. But they have a right to say what they want to say. I don’t have to listen to them. I don’t have I don’t want to have them over for dinner. But they have a right to say it.
RAND: Yeah, and that’s the hard part about the First Amendment. Because it’s easy if I’m saying, hey, what a great guy Glenn Beck is. You love my First Amendment rights. But if I’m criticizing you, it’s a little harder. But that’s what the First Amendment is about.
GLENN: Right. Let me play a piece of audio here that we found in Al Sharpton. He said this a couple of days ago. This is extraordinarily disturbing to me because of the way we have militarized our police and the way these riots now are being coordinated by people like Al Sharpton. But I want you to listen to what he said when he was talking about the riots in the streets of Baltimore and how they’re going to spread.
AL: — all over the country, which is why we’re going to do this march from here to Washington. We need the Justice Department to step in and take over policing in this country. In the 20th century, they had to fight states’ rights and to get the right to vote. We’re going to have to fight states’ rights in terms of closing down police cases. Police must be held accountable.
GLENN: Okay. So here’s what he said in case you couldn’t understand him. He said. These things are going to happen all around the country. Because it is time we get the Justice Department to take over policing in America. We had to fight states’ rights to get the right to vote. Now we need to fight states’ rights on policing.
RAND: Well, the interesting thing is, there was a time in our history when, you know, the South was all white and African-Americans were mistreated. And there was a role for the federal government to get involved at one point. This now is not a racial problem because all the government in Baltimore was African-American. And the rioting also. So I don’t think the federal government being involved — I do think there’s a problem in our criminal justice system. There’s a problem — we have — and there’s no silver bullet. There’s a variety of problems. But there’s no excuse for violence or rioting. And the primary thing you have to do in the early stages. You have to have security of people’s, you know, person as well as their property. And then over time though, I do want to be part of the dialogue, because I’ll tell you one quick story. And this story I think represents why some people and a lot of people in our society feel like they’re not being treated fairly.
Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old black kid in the Bronx arrested and kept for three years in prison. He was accused of — an illegal immigrant. Illegal alien. And he spent three years in jail and was never tried for his crime. Tried to commit suicide. Was kept in solitary confinement. You can see if you’re his parents and his friends, you would think something is wrong in America. So that kind of stuff does need to be fixed, and it’s part of the unease.
GLENN: Senator, I have to go. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time with us. Senator Rand Paul. You bet.