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Public Statements

Issue Position: Civil Liberties

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Senator Maria Cantwell believes the federal government has a responsibility to respect our rights and honor our privacy. It also has a responsibility to protect our nation from those who may bring terror into our homes. These principles are not mutually exclusive: we can and must achieve both.

Respecting Privacy in the Patriot Act

Maria believes the federal government has a responsibility to respect our rights and honor our privacy. That's why she supports legislation to roll back provisions of the PATRIOT Act that allow the federal government to confiscate the papers, electronic records and equipment of libraries and booksellers, as part of open-ended government investigations of American citizens. She believes that government investigators must be required to show a connection between the records they are seeking and a suspected terrorist or spy. Maria also supports the Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act, which would amend the Patriot Act to protect personal privacy involving library, bookseller and other records, while allowing law enforcement to protect national security.

Protecting the Voting Rights Act

Maria supported legislation to renew provisions in the historic Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965. She believes that we have a responsibility to guard against inequality and injustice at the polls and that the act is critical to ensure that equal rights are upheld throughout our country's voting process.

National Security Administration (NSA) Wire Tapping

Maria believes it is wrong and illegal to wire tap without a warrant. We need to make sure our intelligence programs and officials are getting the job done of protecting the U.S. and maintaining our national security. Maria believes that Congressional checks and balances are needed to make sure that the oversight of our intelligence programs is effective. We must protect both national security and civil liberties.


Like most Americans, Maria believes that we must work to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through education and family planning. But she also believes that our Constitution protects a woman's right to privacy, and that this constitutional right encompasses the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy. Maria has been a proud cosponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act which declares the fundamental right of every woman to bear a child and terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability (and after when necessary to protect her life or health). Maria supports life education programs that include contraception. Maria has worked to require hospitals to offer victims of sexual assault free emergency contraception. Maria continues to work to require health plans to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs, devices and services at the same level as other care. Maria supported the Global Democracy Promotion Act of 2001, which would have lifted the "global gag rule" on non-profit organizations. Maria believes states should be allowed to provide family planning under Medicaid, and to overturn existing Pentagon policy that restricts female service members' reproductive rights in the case of rape or incest.

Civil Rights

Maria supports the End Racial Profiling Act which would ban racial profiling once and for all and require Federal, State, and local law enforcement to take steps to end and prevent racial profiling. Maria is proud that Washington state has already passed legislation that requires state police to record and make public the racial and ethnic patterns of their traffic stops, and encourages local law enforcement to do the same.

Maria supported an amendment to condemn discrimination against and protect the civil liberties of Arab-Americans and American Muslims. She was also an original cosponsor of a measure passed by the Senate condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh-Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.

Maria supported legislation to award a congressional gold medal to Dr. Dorothy Heights, a prominent social and civil rights activist. She also was a cosponsor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Coin Act of 2004, to mint $1 silver coins in his honor. In addition, Maria is a cosponsor of a Senate-passed, bipartisan resolution apologizing to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation in the past.

Maria supported a bill awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich and Roy Peratrovich, in recognition of their outstanding and enduring contributions to the civil rights and dignity of the Native peoples of Alaska and the Nation.

Maria supported the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act of 2003, which made tax-exempt payments received from discrimination claims.

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