Bulk Phone Records Collection Voted Down in Oxford-Style Debate

8 October 2014
Tal Kopan

A strong majority of audience members thought a mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure following an Oxford-style debate on the topic last night sponsored by Open to Debate formerly known as Intelligence Squared U.S., which is affiliated with NPR. The motion mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment polled 46 percent among audience members before the debate and 66 percent afterward. Arguing in favor of the motion were ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo and Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center. Opposing it were former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker and John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer best known for writing the Bush Administration memo justifying enhanced interrogation of terror detainees that critics have dubbed torture. Before the debate, 17 percent of audience members opposed the motion and 37 percent were undecided. After the debate, 28 percent opposed it and 6 percent were undecided.