The town meeting of Brewster, Ma., has condemned the federal USA Patriot Act. The Boston Globe says the symbolic act was led by an unlikely alliance of libertarians, an antitax group, and a Unitarian congregation, and a more traditional coalition of civil libertarians and antiwar activists. The Globe says a similar story has already played out in 16 Massachusetts communities, and 16 more will discuss the issue this spring.
Opponents of the federal measure argue that there is growing dissatisfaction with the expansion of federal powers from disparate groups, from gun owners to librarians to fiscal conservatives. So far, state governments and 236 communities in 37 states have passed resolutions against the law. Its opponents think their momentum will force Congress and the White House to address their concerns. “If anyone takes time to read the Patriot Act, there’s no question that our First Amendment rights are being eroded,” said James Geisler, treasurer of the Brewster Taxpayers Association, a 52-year-old group that tries to curtail government spending.