The Obama economy has been tough on America’s working families. Just last week Pew Research Center reported that in the last 15 years “the middle class lost ground in nearly nine-in-ten U.S. metropolitan areas.” One cause of this 15-year squeeze of hardworking Americans? Rising housing prices.
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This week the House of Representatives took an historic step for Americans’ privacy rights. By an overwhelming vote of 419-0, it passed bipartisan legislation to protect Americans’ email and other information in the cloud from warrantless searches. Now that the House has passed the Email Privacy Act to finally update our laws for the digital age and without a single opposing vote, the Senate should do the same.
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One of the most fundamental challenges facing the United States today is the deep and growing distrust between the American people and their political system in Washington, D.C. And the inconvenient truth — rarely acknowledged by Washington elites — is that the American people’s distrust of their public institutions is totally justified.

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“We the People….” The opening words of the Preamble to the United States Constitution are a familiar refrain that Americans learn from youth. It was “the People” who established the United States Senate in Article I, Section 1, of that document, and it is for them that my colleagues and I now serve.

That same charter established “one supreme Court,” consisting of judges appointed “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” As law professor John McGinnis stated in “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution,” this provision gives the Senate “complete and final discretion in whether to accept or approve a nomination.” And as legal scholar Adam White has demonstrated, in a 2005 article carefully analyzing the Appointments Clause, that the Senate retains complete discretion with respect to whether it should even consider – much less accept or reject – presidential nominees.
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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an extraordinary man whose contributions to this country and its people are so prodigious that it will take generations for us to fully comprehend our debt to him. His untimely death is a tragedy, and his legacy a blessing to friends of freedom everywhere.

Justice Scalia was a learned student of history and a man who relished a spirited debate. So it is fitting that his passing has sparked a conversation about the constitutional powers governing the appointment of Supreme Court justices and the historical record of court vacancies.

This debate gives the American people a unique opportunity to discuss our nation's founding charter at a time when our collective choices have real consequences. So it's important that this debate proceed with candor, mutual respect and deference to the facts.

In that spirit, I'd like to address a few of the errors that we have heard so far in this debate.
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A year ago today, five unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to exploit an 80-year-old law meant for regulating radio, telephone, and telegraph operations, in order to begin regulating the Internet.
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If you haven’t been paying attention lately, you might have missed a controversy crop up about an issue that I imagine most Americans did not realize was controversial.

Over the last week, prominent military and political leaders have called for requiring all American women to register for the selective service – that is, potential military conscription.
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"Occupational licensing has grown not because consumers demanded it, but because lobbyists recognized a business opportunity where they could use government power to get rich at the public’s expense."
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January 28 marks Data Privacy Day—an annual day to raise awareness about personal and data privacy in an era when we store the majority of our business and personal lives online. It is also an important opportunity to remind Congress that Americans’ digital privacy rights remain exposed under an outdated law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows the government to access our private emails to friends, photos shared with family members and a host of other personal communications conducted online without a warrant.

A year ago on this date, Republicans and Democrats came together in both the Senate and House in an unprecedented show of support to introduce legislation (S. 356, the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act and H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act) to fix this gaping hole in our privacy rights. Nearly everyone across the political spectrum agrees on a simple premise: that there must be limits on government access to Americans’ emails. These bills would accomplish this by requiring government officials to go before a judge, which is the same process they go through to gain access to enter our homes or open a letter sent through the mail.

Despite a massive show of support that only continues to grow, there has been limited activity in the House and Senate. The Senate held a hearing in September followed by a House Judiciary hearing in December. Yet both pieces of legislation are still stalled in committee and not even set for a markup, let alone a floor vote.

Why the hold up? Unfortunately, some congressional leaders are listening to the concerns of civil agencies -- namely the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These government agencies are reluctant to give up their backdoor access to online communications without a warrant and have successfully blocked ECPA reform thus far. Yet the original ECPA legislation was passed in 1986 -- when the Internet was first growing and widespread use of the cloud wouldn’t occur for another two decades. Ironically, ECPA was intended to protect Americans’ electronic privacy and restrict the government from warrantless access to our online activities. However, ECPA permitted law enforcement and other civil agencies to access online communications after 180 days because, at the time, policymakers and experts couldn’t fathom the idea of storing emails or other data online for an extended period of time. Fast forward nearly 30 decades and that’s exactly what happens today with services like Gmail and Facebook.

2016 is the year to bring ECPA reform across the finish line. Congressional and public support for reform is overwhelming: the Email Privacy Act is now the most co-sponsored bill in the House with a quarter of the Senate co-sponsoring corresponding legislation. Dozens and dozens of businesses, civil liberty organizations, technology companies and experts, including tech mogul Mark Cuban, have praised reform, and more than 110,000 people across the country signed onto a White House petition.

Not only is 2016 the year to capitalize on this surge in support, but it needs to be done soon since there is a limited time left on the congressional calendar for its passage. In a pivotal election year, there are a limited number of days in session to move legislation through both houses before members of Congress transition to full-time campaign mode this summer.

The Senate, House and general public have fully proved the necessity and backing for this crucial safeguard to Americans’ online privacy. It is time to stop heeding the exaggerated concerns of the SEC and move forward with ECPA reform legislation. In an age when bipartisan cooperation and congressional buy-in are low, it should be a no-brainer to bring this legislation to the floor. ECPA reform has met and surpassed all requisite hurdles of support and deserves a floor vote as soon as possible.

Americans deserve to have their Fourth Amendment protections apply online, as they do in the offline world. We call on members of Congress to stand up to the small number of government agencies, like the SEC, which are pulling out all the stops to halt ECPA reform in its tracks to protect their own interests. Congress should listen to the American people -- not the government -- when it comes to strengthening privacy protections online.

op-ed originally published in The Hill