- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Senate on Thursday rejected an amendment that would prohibit the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from approving surveillance warrants to monitor U.S. citizens.

Lawmakers voted 85-11 to reject the measure by Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. Paul’s amendment would still allow the FISC to order surveillance of foreigners but would force the government to obtain a search warrant from a traditional federal court to monitor an American citizen.

The amendment would also block the federal government from using evidence gained from warrantless surveillance on an American and guarantee the target of the surveillance could use that evidence in their defense.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the government can be approved to surveil Americans suspected of conspiring with foreign entities. But the secretive FISC runs afoul of the constitutional protections Americans are entitled to in traditional legal proceedings, Mr. Paul said.

“I think we should admit that we can’t constitutionally allow Americans to be subjected to a search that doesn’t involve the Fourth Amendment,” Mr. Paul said before the vote. “I believe there is no fixing the FISA Court to make it constitutional for Americans. I believe the only solution is to exempt Americans from the FISA Court.”

Mr. Paul’s amendment was one of three the Senate weighed before voting to reauthorize lapsing FISA provisions Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Senate blocked a bipartisan amendment that would have banned the government from spying on Americans’ internet browsing and search histories without a warrant.

Also Wednesday, the Senate approved an amendment that would allow independent legal analysts to scrutinize requests by the FBI and other agencies to spy on Americans under FISA.

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