Sen. Collins introduces sealed mail amendment

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has introduced a bipartisan amendment that reaffirms that both federal law and the Constitution protect sealed domestic mail from being searched.

The amendment comes after a signing statement from the White House issued in conjunction with the signing of the Collins-Carper postal reform legislation.

“The president’s spokesman has explained that the signing statement was not intended to change the scope of the law,” Sen. Collins said in a statement. “But the statement caused confusion and concern about the president’s commitment to abide by the basic privacy protections afforded sealed domestic mail.

“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,” she said.

Sen. Collins’ resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Norm Coleman (R-MN).

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which was signed into law in December, represents the most sweeping reforms of the U.S. Postal Service in more than three decades. It is supposed to help the Postal Service meet the challenges of the 21st century, establish a new rate-setting system and ensure a strong financial future for the Postal Service.

It also protects the basic features of universal service. The new law provides 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,” Sen. Collins said. “With only limited exceptions, the government needs a court warrant before it can search sealed mail.”

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