Big Brother is Watching You: Establishing the Constitutionality of the Post-9/11 USA Patriot Act




Richardson, Brittlin M.

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Since the founding of the United States of America, Congress has consistently passed legislation to expand the federal government’s power in wartime and conflict. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks committed by al-Qaeda, the executive branch of the government and numerous federal agencies were granted a huge increase in power with The USA PATRIOT Act, or The 2001 Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. It allowed the government an easier avenue to surveil those within their borders, specifically those they believed to be potential terrorists, in order to prevent similar devastating attacks. This thesis applies the political ideology and constitutional philosophy of Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, who often had competing political beliefs, to establish the constitutionality of The USA PATRIOT Act through published primary sources such as the Federalist Papers and individual advocacy for legislation. In addition, a historical analysis of America’s response to war is utilized in order to establish the chain of events that allowed for the creation of the broadening of powers, including the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Espionage Act of 1917, and an exploration of The Red Scare and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As it explores some of the broadest powers granted to federal government in five sections of The PATRIOT ACT, each will be applied utilizing Hamilton and Jefferson's background and philosophical beliefs to determine the constitutionality of the legislation and why it came to be.



Jefferson, Thomas, Hamilton, Alexander, USA Patriot Act, constitution, political theory, national security, wartime, Honors College


Richardson, B. (2020). Big brother is watching you: Establishing the constitutionality of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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