Friday, January 12, 2018

Boyle Introduces STABLE GENIUS Act Requiring Presidential Candidates Undergo and Disclose Medical Examination

By Brendan Boyle (D-PA, 13th)


Washington, D.C. - January 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) introduced the Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection (STABLE GENIUS) Act to require that all presidential candidates undergo a standardized medical examination and publicly disclose its results before the election. Specifically, Boyle’s legislation would require candidates whom have won the presidential nomination of a political party to file a report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as such candidates must do for a host of other campaign-related requirements, certifying that he or she has undergone medical examination by the medical office under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy and containing the results of the examination. All FEC filings are publically available online.

“The President believes he is a ‘stable genius.’ I do not,” said Congressman Boyle. “President Trump’s reckless, erratic behavior has exposed a critical flaw in our existing election process. Before voting for the highest office in the land, Americans have a right to know whether an individual has the physical and mental fitness to serve as President of the United States. While it is necessary to take the current President’s concerning behavior seriously and I support legislation to address these ongoing concerns, I believe we must also be proactive and do all we can to ensure a situation like this does not arise again.”
Boyle concluded, “My legislation provides a much needed safeguard to ensure that future presidential candidates meet the basic standards of a proper, uniform medical examination, and that this information is available to the American public before voting for the Office of the Presidency. While President Trump apparently considers himself a ‘stable genius,’ the American people deserve a thorough, standardized procedure to allow a medical professional to determine this.”

Congressman Boyle remains an outspoken defender of our democratic norms and leadership abroad, and holding the Trump Administration accountable to the American people. Boyle cosponsors H.Res.456, objecting to President Trump’s conduct in office, as well as legislation to require the president to disclose his taxes, disclose communications with the Russian government, and refrain from influencing U.S. policy toward Russia until the FBI’s investigation concludes. Additionally, Boyle cosponsors H.J.Res.120, legislation to prevent any president from pardoning himself or any member of his family, administration, or campaign staff. As co-chair of the Blue Collar Caucus, Congressman Boyle is fighting for economic opportunity for the middle class, and holding the President accountable for his promises to blue collar workers on labor protections, job security, outsourcing, trade, and manufacturing.

Reaction to FISA Vote

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act program was initially enacted with the focus of gathering intelligence on foreign actors but was expanded by the USA Patriot Act in 2001 to include surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Note from the editor:

I remember when the Patriot Act was first signed into law. I was one of the few who railed against it because of everything that is being railed against it today. I was attacked from all sides because it was shortly after 9-11 and people would rather give up freedom than security.

Benjamin Franklin once said "He who would give up essential liberty in order to gain a little temporary security deserves neither."

I have not changed my stance on this.

Rod Blum (R-IA, 1st)

“I respect the work of our intelligence community and law enforcement agencies to protect U.S. citizens from harm within the country and overseas, but I cannot support flagrant violations of the Fourth Amendment. I co-sponsored Congressman Amash’s proposed Amendment because I continue to be concerned about unauthorized government intrusion in private communications between U.S. citizens, and I believe this amendment would have addressed these underlying issues such as ensuring proper warrants are in place before obtaining information on U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, this amendment was not included in the final bill, and that is why I voted NO on continuing these unconstitutional surveillance practices.”

Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR, 1st)

“We all want the nation to be secure, but Americans’ privacy rights must not be sacrificed while protecting national security,” said Bonamici. “Our intelligence gathering infrastructure and the laws governing it need to strike a careful balance between national security and an individual’s right to privacy. This bill does not properly achieve that balance. It raises serious concerns about the potential for abusive warrantless searches that would undermine Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. I’m disappointed that the House did not agree to bipartisan reforms to address those concerns.

“In an increasingly connected world, it is critical that the American government respect the privacy rights of Americans while protecting national security. I cannot support reauthorization without stronger safeguards to prevent the unconstitutional collection and use of our private communications.”

Judy Chu (D-CA, 27th)

“FISA includes flaws that were written for a different time. That is why, for years, we have been calling for a fix that would protect our citizens from FISA abuses. The bill that passed the House today is not that fix. While this bill does add new warrant requirements for law enforcement, those requirements are for display only. In fact, the FBI acknowledges that they will almost never be forced to use a warrant under this law to access e-mail or phone calls. This creates a real risk that the private information of American citizens could be handed over to other agencies without having to follow due process. Further, the warrant provision is further weakened by an undefined ‘national security’ exemption so ambiguous that I worry the government will use it to allow a number of purely domestic searches. We must protect the rights and privacy of American citizens.” 

Tom Cole (R-OK, 4th)

“I am extremely pleased that the legislation extending section 702 authority, which is critical to our national security, has been adopted by the House and passed, with my support,” said Cole. “S. 139 allows the federal government to track foreign terrorists on foreign soil. These surveillance activities are crucial to protecting American citizens and our troops stationed abroad.”
“I am also satisfied that there are sufficient measures included in the legislation to protect the privacy of American citizens. We have not seen any abuse of section 702 authority by intelligence agencies and law enforcement in the past, and I am confident that they will continue to perform with the highest professional standards in the future.”
“The debate over the section 702 authority has been good and healthy. I believe Congress has struck the right balance between protecting civil liberties and protecting our nation’s safety and security in this year’s FISA reauthorization.”

Suzan Delbene (D-WA, 1st)

Our first priority must always be keeping Americans safe and I believe we can find a balance between respecting the Fourth Amendment and protecting our national security. This legislation fails to make the critical reforms needed to address the privacy concerns of Americans, which is why I oppose it.

Keith Ellison (D-MN, 5th)

“In the last several years, we’ve seen Americans' civil rights and civil liberties rolled back, and religious minorities, immigrants and communities of color targeted most acutely. By codifying a warrantless surveillance program into law, and giving the U.S. government access to millions of Americans’ private emails, text messages and phone calls, S. 139 further jeopardizes the privacy rights for those communities, including many within my own district.

We must stand our ground against this continued erosion of our constitutional rights. I hope my colleagues will join me in voting to replace this bill with the USA RIGHTS Act, which reinstates essential Fourth Amendment protections."

Blake Farenthold (R-TX, 27th) 

“There are a lot of constitutional and ethical problems with this legislation. It is troubling that despite having a warrant requirement, the exceptions are so broad they eviscerate the rule,” said Congressman Farenthold. “Part of protecting the American people includes protecting their constitutional rights.”

John Faso (R-NY, 19th)

“Failure to extend the FISA Act would put our nation at risk, impacting our ability to investigate terrorist threats – even those which might be an immediate threat. In addition, FISA intelligence is frequently utilized to protect U.S. military forces and diplomatic missions from hostile action by terrorist networks. We cannot let our nation go unprotected against hostile terrorist entities. We must keep this authority, and I was proud to support this legislation today,” 

Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ, 4th)

"My first year in Congress was the first time I was faced with the decision to reauthorize sections of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA). This law, enacted in 1978, nominally allowed for the collection of foreign intelligence on foreign agents suspected of terroristic activities or espionage. That all sounds legitimate. In concept, this law was intended to allow surveillance and spying on non-citizens who posed a terrorist threat to our country.

"In practice, the law has been repeatedly abused to spy on American citizens. Notable abuses date back to 2002, and most recently, it was used as a political weapon against Donald Trump and his campaign. The reason it can be abused so easily is that the President can authorize spying without a court order. There is a process to get a warrant from a secret tribunal, or FISA court, but this process is merely a rubber stamp.  Out of 22,990 applications for permission to spy between 1979 and 2006, only five were denied. That is the definition of a rubber stamp.  That is not an independent check and balance.

"In 2015, I voted against the USA Freedom Act, which I initially supported as it would have forced the FISA court to be more transparent and curbed the abuses that are still occurring. However, as is often the case, after the House passed a strong bill, the Senate weakened it substantially and I therefore was forced to withdraw my support. The fact that the abuses increased after passage of this law demonstrates my concerns were valid. As I said at the time: 

'The original Freedom Act, of which I’m proud to have been an original cosponsor, would have prevented the federal government from unconstitutionally spying on innocent Americans, ended the bulk collection of private information and required the FISA court, which operates in secrecy, to become more transparent and operate like a real judicial court. These are necessary reforms demanded by Americans and our Constitution. Unfortunately, however, this legislation was changed at the last minute. Key reforms in the original bill were stripped or weakened to such an extent that I could not in good faith continue to support it. I am disappointed that the House accepted this watered down piece of trash, which was endorsed and pushed by the Obama administration and fails to remedy serious government abuses.'

"I am not happy to say I told you so."

"In 2011, I was told I should vote for FISA reauthorization because the government agents had learned their lesson and would never abuse their power again. And they said it again in 2012. And 2013, 2014 and on and on. You get the point. Nothing has changed. Indeed, under Obama (after the so-called reforms), the abuse of this law reached criminal proportions where FISA was weaponized as a political tool to harass, spy and undermine our election process and to (unsuccessfully) help the party in power remain in power through the election of Hillary Clinton. Such spying on U.S. citizens under color of law is illegal and can result in five years in jail. 

"I am not holding my breath for the Trump Department of Justice to convene a grand jury and start the indictment process against the Obama officials who violated the law and the civil rights of Donald Trump and his campaign staff. I can only do what is in my power to do, which is to say enough. 

"I, along with more than 40 of my colleagues, led by Michigan Representative Justin Amash, have championed practical, constitutionally-sound reforms to the FISA program that would allow our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to effectively carry out their mission to keep our country safe while also upholding the bedrock constitutional protections American citizens have been guaranteed since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Unfortunately these reforms were not incorporated into the most recent reauthorization bill.

"When I was sworn in as the Representative for Fourth Congressional District of Arizona, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. Allowing warrantless spying on American citizens is a violation of the Constitution. This is why I voted against FISA 702 Reauthorization."

Joseph P. Kennedy, 3rd (D-MA, 4th)

“Balancing the delicate scales of privacy and security for the American people is Congress’s most solemn responsibility. Reauthorizing this surveillance program provided an overdue opportunity to ensure that our intelligence community maintained the tools necessary to keep us safe, while guaranteeing the civil liberties of our citizens. Instead, the bill approved today only slightly improved the status quo and failed to make the meaningful reforms this program required.”

Related news:

FISA, Davidson's Push to Uphold Constitutional Rights