Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has planned a Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing on the USA Patriot Act for April 14, at 10:00 a.m. MST in the Moot Court Room of the University of Utah law school in Salt Lake City, Utah. The hearing is open to the public.
Though no booksellers are scheduled to appear at the hearing, Betsy Burton of The King's English bookstore and Tony Weller of Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore, both in Salt Lake City, have sent letters to Hatch in which they spell out booksellers' strong conviction that Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act should be amended.
In her letter, Burton wrote, "I'm all too familiar with Section 215 of the so-called 'Patriot Act' and find it chilling. It seems to me that any true patriot would adhere to and support the Constitution of the United States and our civil rights as detailed in the Bill of Rights and protected by our courts. Indeed, I've always believed that a bedrock conservative tenet was the sanctity of the Constitution. I find any threat to rights guaranteed by that precious document to be both unpatriotic and wrong-headed."
Additionally, she urged the Utah Senator to support the Security and Freedom Ensured Act (SAFE) of 2003, which was introduced in the Senate on October 2, 2003, by Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). The legislation (S. 1709) would amend parts of the USA Patriot Act, including Section 215. (For a previous article on SAFE, click here. To read Burton's letter in full, click here.)
Those scheduled to appear at the hearing are: Deputy Attorney General Comey; Utah U.S. Attorney Paul Warner; Dani Eyer of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah; Frank Myler of the Utah Grassroots Caucus, formerly the Republican Conservative Caucus; and Nanette Benowitz of the Utah League of Women Voters. In addition, Aaron Turpen of the Utah Libertarian Party and Bruce Cohne of Utah's Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights may be asked to provide written testimony.
The address of the Moot Court Room is S.J. College of Law, University of Utah, 332 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730. The phone number is (801) 581-6833.