Arizona could become the next state to join a growing national rebellion against the USA Patriot Act, the antiterror law passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Archconservative state Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, said he plans to introduce a statewide resolution denouncing a law he calls a threat to American liberties.
Pearce said he supports President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, but said the act tramples on the Bill of Rights.
"I get very concerned when we are asked to give up our civil liberties," Pearce said.
Although Pearce did not say when he will present the resolution to the Legislature for approval, if passed, Arizona would join Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont as states that have shown contempt for the law.
Nationally, more than 150 communities, including Flagstaff and Tucson, have passed resolutions denouncing it. Leaders of Scottsdale and other East Valley cities are cautious about passing the proposed resolutions, saying it is not a local issue.
The law, which Congress passed on Oct. 25, 2001, compromises the U.S. Constitution, Pearce said, and allows the federal government to work in the dark.
The lawmaker’s announcement comes as other groups in the state have proposed to take action against the antiterror law, which has come under increasing fire. Recently, Republicans and Democrats have criticized the act as a knee -jerk reaction to a national tragedy that threatens civil rights.
The head of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday said the group plans to pressure Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale into adopting citywide resolutions opposing the Patriot Act.
The act has increased the power of federal and local authorities to obtain search warrants for homes and businesses of suspected terrorists and detain them without charges.
Its critics say the law gives federal agents too much unchecked power, while supporters say the act is an indispensable tool in fighting terrorism.
A resolution opposing the act is symbolic, said Jake Logan, the press secretary for the Arizona House of Representatives.
He likened the action to a "post card to Congress." If the resolution is passed, a letter stating the Legislature’s disapproval to the law would be sent to the president as well as the Arizona congressional delegation.
The resolution would not alter law enforcement tactics and the action is not binding, Logan said.