U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced a bipartisan amendment reaffirming that both federal law and the Constitution protect sealed domestic mail from being searched. The amendment is in response to a signing statement that the White House issued in conjunction with the signing of the Collins-Carper postal reform legislation.
In a speech before the U.S. Senate, Senator Collins explained that following the singing of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the White House issued a statement that resulted in confusion about the Administration’s commitment to abide by the basic privacy protections afforded sealed domestic mail.
“The President’s spokesman has explained that the signing statement was not intended to change the scope of the law. But the statement caused confusion and concern about the President’s commitment to abide by the basic privacy protections afforded sealed domestic mail,” said Senator Collins. “Given this unfortunate perception, I wish to be very clear as the author of the postal reform legislation. Nothing in the Postal Reform Act or in the President’s signing statement alters in any way the privacy and civil liberty protections provided to a person who sends or receives sealed mail.”
The Collins-Carper Postal Reform bill, which was signed into law in December 2006, represents the most sweeping reforms of the U.S. Postal Service in over three decades. It will help the Postal Service meet the challenges of the 21st Century, establishes a new rate setting system, and helps ensure a strong financial future for the Postal Service. And it protects the basic features of universal service. The new law also provided for continued authority for the Postal Service to establish a class of mail sealed against inspection.
“Under current law, mail sealed against inspection is entitled to the Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches. With only limited exceptions, the government needs a court warrant before it can search sealed mail,” said Senator Collins.
Senator Collins’ resolution is cosponsored by Senators Carper, Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Norm Coleman (R-MN).