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Issue Position: Civil Liberties And Human Rights

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Mike Capuano believes that we protect our cherished principles best by respecting them.

* In 2001, he voted against the USA PATRIOT Act.

* He opposed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The original FISA legislation permitted wire-tapping with warrants issued by judges in special courts who were able to examine evidence in secret if national security might be jeopardized by arguments in open court. He believed the amended act was unconstitutional, violating the protections of the First and Fourth Amendments.

Mike understands we live in a dangerous world. When considering military commissions to try suspected terrorists, he was willing, for example, to discuss changing standards of proof from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "the preponderance of the evidence." He was not, however, prepared to tolerate trials conducted on the authority of the President alone, as the previous administration attempted to do through Executive Order. He believes we must remain a government of laws. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has honored him with their Champion of the Constitution award.

This year, he is a co-sponsor of H.R. 104, To establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties. This legislation would create an independent bipartisan commission with members appointed by the President and by leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to investigate detention, "enhanced interrogation techniques," "ghosting", extraordinary rendition, and warrantless electronic surveillance.

The right to vote remains the basis of all our rights. Mike Capuano proudly co-sponsored the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization Act of 2006, maintaining the provisions of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. He is determined to protect the integrity of every vote cast, and has insisted that any nationwide reform of voting include the right of every citizen to demand a paper ballot. As a member of the Somerville City Council, his leadership was crucial in making Somerville the first city in Massachusetts to adopt optical scanners. This system is, after the national debacle of hanging chads, now recognized as the gold standard of election technology.

Mike is firmly committed to individual freedom. He is a co-sponsor of a bill to repeal the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." He opposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and woman. It would supersede the law in Massachusetts and other states which permit same-sex marriage, and interfere with the right of consenting adults to enter into a legal relationship, with the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Clergy who object to such unions need not sanctify them, but civil authority should not discriminate against them.

Mike believes that the United States must support human rights globally. He has opposed trade agreements, such as Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and CAFTA for Central America, because our negotiators did not insist on minimal protections for human rights and the right to organize independent trade unions. He has joined with Amnesty International to support prisoners of conscience around the world and with programs like "Scholars at Risk" at Harvard in defense of exiled dissidents.

He has worked closely with the International Rescue Committee, the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, and the Political Asylum and Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project to secure political asylum for survivors of torture and other atrocities and to reunite them with their spouses and children.

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