For some background, I'm competing in an upcoming student congress competition. One of the bills on the docket is a resolution to repeal Section 215 of the Patriot Act. After doing some background reading, I'm confused as to whether or not Section 215 is technically still in effect.

From Wikipedia:

At midnight on May 31, 2015, Section 215 expired.[39] With the passage of th e USA Freedom Act on June 2, 2015 the expired parts of law, including Section 215, were reported broadly as restored and renewed through 2019.[40] But, the USA Freedom Act did not explicitly state that it was restoring the expired provisions of Section 215.[41] Since such renewal language is nowhere to be found, the law amended the version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that existed on October 25, 2001, prior to changes brought by the USA Patriot Act, rendering much of the amendment language incoherent.[42][43] How this legislative SNAFU will be fixed is not clear.

Anyone smarter than me care to shed some light on the issue?

1 Answer 1


I don't have a complete knowledge of the two laws nor am I a lawyer. Based on the quote you provided it sounds like this is a letter of the law verses the spirit of the law issue. The letter of the law says Sec. 215 was not renewed. But one could assume the authors of the USA Freedom Act intended to renew it because they amended it. They simply forgot to include the renewal language. These kind of "bugs" creep up when you're dealing with hundreds of pages of convoluted strike-this and add-that wording.

Since it's implied Congress intended to renew that section the executive agencies are interpreting it as being renewed. So yes, in practice Section 215 (as amended by the USA Freedom Act) is in effect. Though the ambiguity of whether it was renewed or not leaves open the possibility of a court battle in the future.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .