Just when it seems the feckless House Republican “leadership” can’t get any worse along comes another opportunity to pass an anti-constitutional bill that is a priority of Obama and the Far left.
In this case the bill creates a federal grant program to implant GPS microchips in children and the elderly, and a government database – run by the Department of Justice – to track their whereabouts.
H.R. 4919 proposes to reauthorize and expand an expired federal program, the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program.
If passed, the bill would create a $2 million grant program, administered by the Department of Justice, for the purpose of doling out federal funds to “health care agencies, state and local law enforcement agencies, or public safety agencies and nonprofit organizations to assist such entities in planning, designing, establishing, or operating locally based, proactive programs to prevent wandering and locate missing individuals” who suffer from various forms of mental impairment.
Funds would also be available to “provide education and training” to “school personnel, clinicians, and the public” for the purpose of improving safety and “reduc[ing] the incidence of wandering,” as well as to provide “prevention and response training and emergency protocols” for “school administrators, staff, and families.”
The thrust of the proposed law, however, focuses on tracking devices, and would require the DOJ to award grants for the purpose of “designing, establishing, and operating locative tracking technology programs” for individuals suffering from developmental disabilities.
Under the auspices of this program, individuals or caregivers would be able to apply for a tracking device, and local organizations could receive funding to operate tracking networks to monitor them.
While the stated intent (saving the lives of autistic children and elderly dementia patients who have wandered from their intended location) is noble, the civil liberties impacts are undeniable, because it is the government that decides who is “eligible” to have a microchip implanted.
The civil liberties impact is also obvious and undeniable because once the power to track someone is granted to the Department of Justice the criteria for tracking will surely grow.
And why the Department of Justice, which under Obama has been a principle vehicle for enforcing his extra-constitutional agenda?
Think for example, of what an Obama Department of Justice, armed with this new power could do inspired by the push to confiscate the guns of elderly Veterans Administration patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Now think about the questions Obama pushed doctors to ask about gun ownership, there would be nothing to stop a future Obama-like administration from expanding the criteria for tracking to include virtually any indicator – a prescription for anti-depressants for example.
The bill in question, H.R. 4919, sounds innocuous enough noted our friend Jason Snead of the Heritage Foundation, who could object to efforts to find lost citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s and autism?
While the bill gives a head nod to the 4th Amendment, the potential for abuse of the system is readily apparent, and, when considering new federal laws, the most important question is not, “Is this a good idea?” Rather, policymakers need to first ask, “Is this a job for the federal government?”
When it comes to tracking lost individuals, and implanting GPS tracking chips in citizens, the answer clearly must be no.
Now comes the really strange part of this bizarre attack on constitutional liberty and the right to be left alone by the government – this bill, in a Republican-controlled Congress, has been hot lined through the Senate, and the House Judiciary Committee scheduled a markup, but so many conservatives on the Committee objected that they canceled the markup.
Yet, here the bill is on the suspension calendar no less, where it could be passed by voice vote.
Given the fact that conservative opposition forced the cancellation of the markup, there is no excuse for the House Republican “leadership” to bring the bill to the Floor under suspension.
Once the power to track someone is granted to the Department of Justice the criteria for tracking will surely expand. We urge CHQ readers to call Congress (the Capitol Switchboard is 1-866-220-0044) to tell your Representative to oppose H.R. 4919 when it comes up under suspension later today.