In the end, Sen. Rand Paul spoke for just over 11 hours against the Patriot Act, a move which the Washington Post describes as potentially pivotal to his run for the White House in 2016:
Wednesday’s speech was poised to be a potential inflection point for Paul’s presidential campaign as, after a series of early stumbles, he seized the moment to very publicly distinguish himself from his competitors — and gauge whether a hawkish party would take to his message that there should be greater limits on government surveillance. As he began speaking, Paul’s team blasted out e-mails and issued a flurry of tweets urging supporters to “#StandWithRand,” and it continued to promote Paul’s speech all night. A group of about 30 Paul supporters gathered outside the Senate on Wednesday evening, waving signs from Paul’s presidential campaign.
Paul has plenty of opposition on the issue, not all of it confined to potential rivals. Fellow Republican Sen. Tom Cotton took an especially forceful position in opposition to Paul, all but calling him misleading.
“I disagree with Rand on both points, the constitutionality and the effectiveness,” Cotton said. “First the constitutionality: The Supreme Court passed on this a long time ago. There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in call data. Again, not the content of calls, not even the personally identifiable information about calls, but the call data — the two numbers called, the date and time of the call and the duration of the call, because we willfully turn it over to our telecom provider.”
Cotton also noted that the government can’t view the data without receiving a special warrant.
“This is not a question of looking at the actual content of calls,” Cotton continued. “And, the Constitution, as ruled by the Supreme Court, doesn’t give anyone a reasonable expectation of privacy in data that the telephone companies have always had — that they can sell for marketing purposes.”