Tuesday, April 3, 2012
4th Amendment: How Long Until We Are No Longer Protected
The infamous 4th Amendment: 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.
The 4th Amendment was created in part to have a constitutional cushion between U.S. citizens and the power of law enforcement. There are two main parts to this amendment, the first is the interest of privacy. This is recognized by Americans to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. The second, is interest of prohibiting searches and seizures that are unreasonable, or are not authorized by a warrant based upon probable cause.
We as criminal justice majors know the important cases regarding the Fourth Amendment. Examples: plain view doctrine, Terry stops, Berger case, Katz case, exclusionary rule, Atwater case, Kyllo case, and the board of education with drug testing. These are just some of the important 4th Amendment cases, with plenty still left unnamed.
In our time, here and now, we as a society need to decide how we are going to act with new 4th Amendment ''policies''. Throughout the U.S. history there have been plenty of unconstitutional arrests, anything from arrest and search without a warrant, search and seizure without a warrant, to border searches. We as Americans have given our government the power to enable TSA, have unlawful searches, and invasion of privacy.
Law Enforcement always, and will always try to push the envelope when it comes to individual rights, because they are concerned about crime control. One example is the Olmstead case, L.E. officers participated in eavesdropping on telephone calls. This got shot down in the Supreme Court. Then they tried to wire-tap which was again found unconstitutional. Their last effort came when trying to 'bug' ( a listening device). At first the Court found that it did not violate the Fourth Amendment, but then realized that conversations cannot be seized, unlike tangible items.
We now face the issue of warrantless ''National Security'' electronic surveillance. After Katz, Justice White sought to preserve a future case where national security was in danger and through the authorization of the President or Attorney General that such surveillance could be permissible without prior judicial approval. So now with the threat of national security, the government can 'bug' and wiretap, unconstitutional, but technically constitutional.
Our government continues to try and get away with unconstitutional endeavors; wiretapping, warrantless GPS on vehicles, search of cellphones, TSA, warrantless search and seizure. These laws are consistently changing and we need to understand them, and if opposed, fight for your rights.