Individual Rights & Personal Freedoms
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” - Declaration of Independence, 1776
The government of the United States was created to protect the God-given rights of the people, from our First Amendment rights to free speech and religious freedom, to our Second Amendment right to bear arms, to our rights to hold private property and be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.
Our rights come from God, not the government. I believe we must guard these God-given freedoms against infringement, whether that infringement is at the hands of other individuals or the government.
- I was proud to help usher the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048) through Congress to protect our civil liberties and end, once and for all, the National Security Agency’s unlawful bulk data collection program that has intruded upon our rights as Americans. It was signed into law on June 2, 2015. The USA Freedom Act proves once again that we can protect both Americans’ civil liberties and our national security without compromising either one. This new law ends bulk collection, enhances civil liberties protections, increases transparency for both American businesses and the government, and provides national security officials targeted tools to keep America safe.
- In recent years, there have been increasing calls for Congress to reform the criminal justice system. The House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, is undertaking an initiative to address a variety of criminal justice issues, including over-criminalization, sentencing reform, prison and reentry reform, protecting citizens through improved criminal procedures and policing strategies, and civil asset forfeiture reform. The Committee’s initiative will pursue responsible, common sense reforms to make sure our federal laws and regulations punish wrongdoers, protect individual freedom, work as efficiently and fairly as possible, do not duplicate state efforts, and do not waste taxpayer dollars.
- Private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and our prosperity and is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in the Constitution. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on the "State of Property Rights in America Ten Years After Kelo v. City of New London" on July 9, 2015.