February 9, 2004
House Judiciary Committee
Utah State Capitol
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
Dear Committee Members:
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support HJR 10, “Joint Resolution Reaffirming the State of Utah’s Commitment to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” We are a coalition of grassroots organizations that represents a wide range of political perspectives. Protecting our civil liberties is not a partisan issue. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the foundation for our freedoms, and we can all agree on the importance of protecting them even during a time of crisis.
Since the horrendous attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, our country has focused on increased security. We support this effort, but we also ask that all levels of government maintain high standards to protect ordinary, law-abiding people from unreasonable intrusions by the government. The very liberties that make our nation unique must not be sacrificed for the sake of new measures that may not effectively ensure our safety.
Some of the actions that prompt our concern are portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the “no fly” lists for airlines, the MATRIX personal data collection experiment, the scrutiny of peaceful protesters, the broadened definition of “domestic terrorism,” the use of the USA PATRIOT Act for non-terrorism cases, and access by law enforcement to detailed personal information through third parties. A check on law enforcement authority, specifically in the areas of surveillance and detention, is an important principle, even in times of uncertainty.
The will of the broader community is demonstrated by the fact that both the Deseret Morning News and the Salt Lake Tribune have repeatedly published editorials expressing concern for finding the balance between security and our basic freedoms. Please support the resolution as a statement of principle to remind the federal government that our civil liberties are important to all of us.
Gayle Ruzicka , Utah Eagle Forum
Bill Barton, Chairman, GrassRoots, The Conservative Caucus
Dani Eyer, ACLU of Utah
Nanette Benowitz, President, League of Women Voters
Lorna Vogt, Utah Progressive Network
Steve Erickson, Citizens Education Project