Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

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U.S. Public Opinion on Patriot Act and Threats to Civil Liberties

The Department of Justice (DOJ) website uses poll data to show that the public supports the Patriot Act. However, the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll data displayed on the DOJ site displays only August 2003 data and is therefore out of date. In the charts below, BORDC includes poll data collected in February 2004 as well as the data used on the DOJ site. Below these poll results are results from a March 2004 study by the Council for Excellence in Government and prepared by Hart-Teeter.

Source: USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll data, February 2004

Some results of the recent poll underlined confusion in the public's minds between the Patriot Act and other antiterrorism measures. However, when the poller described specific Patriot Act provisions, the public expressed widespread disapproval. For example, the chart below shows that 71 percent disapproved of Section 213--sneak and peek and 51 percent disapproved of Section 215--access to records using FISA.

Source: USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll data, February 2004

Source: Council for Excellence in Government March 2004 study, From the Home Front to the Front Lines: America Speaks Out About Homeland Security (PDF).

Other Resources

ABC News Poll, June 9, 2005