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Resolution on USA Patriot Act

August 11, 2003

WHEREAS the City of Newton recognizes the Constitution of the United States as our charter of liberty, and that the Bill of Rights enshrines the fundamental and inalienable rights of Americans, including the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly and privacy; and

WHEREAS each of the City of Newton's duly elected public servants has sworn to defend and uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and

WHEREAS the City of Newton denounces and condemns all acts of terrorism, wherever occurring; and

WHEREAS attacks against Americans such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, have necessitated the crafting of effective laws to protect the public from terrorist attacks; and

WHEREAS any new security measures of federal, state, and local governments should be carefully designed and employed to enhance public safety without infringing on the civil liberties and rights of innocent citizens of the City of Newton; and

WHEREAS certain provisions of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, also known as the USA PATRIOT Act, allow the federal government more liberally to detain and investigate citizens and engage in surveillance activities that may violate or offend the rights and liberties guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions;


The Newton Board of Aldermen supports the government of the United States of America in its campaign against terrorism, and affirms its commitment that the campaign NOT be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country contained in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and

The City of Newton requests and urges its delegation in Congress to monitor the implementation of the USA PATRIOT ACT and to seek the repeal (or sustain the sunsetting where applicable) of those provisions which violate the civil liberties of all, citizen and non-citizen alike, living and working within the City of Newton and elsewhere in the United States and its territorial possessions; and

The Board of Aldermen respectfully requests His Honor the Mayor to instruct city departments and officers to respect the constitutional rights of all people of the City of Newton, including the principles of equality, due process of law, freedom of religion, speech, and association, including privacy and open government; and

The Newton Board of Aldermen implores the United States Congress to correct provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and other measures that infringe on civil liberties, and it opposes any pending and future federal legislation to the extent that it infringes on Americans' "civil rights and liberties" and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Newton Board of Aldermen respectfully requests that the Board of Trustees of the Newton Free Library post public notices in the Library informing all persons -

1. that federal agents are empowered by the USA PATRIOT Act to inspect and copy, and sometimes take, library records which show what patrons have signed out, what web sites they have visited, and with what email addresses they have corresponded; and

2. This federal law prohibits those Library officials from revealing when this has occurred.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT copies of this Resolution be delivered to the Mayor and posted in City buildings and sent to the President of the United States, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and to the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts and to the Senator and Representatives therein who represent the people of the City of Newton.

Edward G. English, City Clerk    Brooke K. Lipsitt, President