This is the fourth essay of the “Breakdown” series. We’ll explore the individual rights in the Bill of Rights. And where they stand today. Comments appreciated, now lets begin.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Now let’s take this apart piece by piece,
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
That means you cannot be searched on your body, home, documents or things and have them taken, without reason. But that’s a loophole that has been exploited. “Unreasonable”? That can mean a number of things in context. Ways around it are, “your description is similar to someone we’re looking for,” “do you smell pot?”, “National Security”. Which is why the Founders added this part…
“…and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Having to get a warrant is supposed to keep the government in check by using the Judicial Branch, and give a good reason for wanting that warrant. Swearing that the reasoning behind it is true, describing where and what is to be searched and seized. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But this is being violated in so many ways, under the guise of legality or blatantly giving the finger to the Fourth.
Here’s a few examples. The TSA for one, a government agency working in a privately owned business. The 4th is supposed to prevent the government from searching you but the airport can. They want to protect their interests but the TSA has no constitutional right to be there. Unless they present a warrant to you upon arrival. X-ray machines is a search of property, body scans is a strip search, and pat downs can be listed as assault. Physical contact without consent, is assault. Someone without a badge does that to you, you can defend yourself, call the cops. Someone with a badge can only do that with consent and/or a warrant.
Then we have FISA Warrants, passed in 1978 by Jimmy Carter, and introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Citizens with “suspected” ties to terrorism or foreign governments can be under surveillance for three days before a FISA has to be justified in court. And surveillance is nothing more than a search of your life.
Then you have the Patriot Act, it was passed without even being read, as is most bills. Ahh, such good representation we have in D.C. It has data mining provisions in it allowing the FBI to look even into your phone calls, to financial records without warrant. Or to look into what you read at the library. Can’t people just be curious?
The Fourth is crumbling, one example of this is Hurricane Katrina, when the police confiscated firearms from citizens homes. That’s a violation of both the Second and Fourth. No elected official went to jail for that. Fortunately state and federal laws were passed to prevent that from happening again.
There is a good reason for searches and seizing of evidence after you catch someone committing a crime and gathering evidence for the case that condemns or absolves them. It’s the abuse of it that is disturbing. To again quote Ben Franklin; “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security” Ben Franklin
Remember that just societies have a check and balance system. Government makes laws which are enforced by cops. Laws are just words on paper, you don’t have to follow them, which is why we have cops. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the laws that keep the Federal Government in check BUT it’s just words on paper unless enforced by someone. Guess who that is? WE THE PEOPLE, and we are failing miserable due to apathy and complacency. A little monetary or physical security in exchange for freedom and liberty. Not for this wolf, I’m not one of the flock, I’m above it and have taken it upon myself to snap you from your slumber, remove your blindfolds and show you how IT IS!
Another essay to follow on the Fifth Amendment next Friday.
© Vance Gatlin 2010