Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Currently, Title II of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT Act) Act of 2001 appears to be stalled as a result of controversy over the intent and meaning of the law. Proponents of the title advocate the necessity of the act to combat modern terrorism, whereas opponents warn of circumventions of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Using punctuated equilibrium as the theoretical foundation, the purpose of this case study was to explore the dialogue and legal exchanges between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Justice related to the National Security Agency's metadata collection program. In specific, the study sought to explore the nature of resistance to changes needed to mollify the controversies associated with Title II. Data for this study were acquired through publicly available documents and artifacts including transcripts of Congressional hearings, legal documents, and briefing statements from the US Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union. These data were deductively coded according to the elements of PET and then subjected to thematic analysis. Findings indicate that supporters and opponents of the law are locked in a consistent ideological polarization, with supporters of the law touting the necessity of the authorizations in combatting terrorism and opponents arguing the law violates civil liberties. Neither side of the debate displayed a willingness to compromise or acknowledge the legitimacy of the other viewpoint. Legislators who accept the legitimacy of both researched viewpoints could create positive social change by refining the law to meet national security needs while preserving constitutional protections.