The Fourth Amendment, one of the most important rights Americans hold is, under attack. I’m not a broken record. It clearly states:
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.
But everything is changing. Our guy, George W. Bush pushed warrantless wiretaps on those inside the United States in the name of terror. Their guy, Barack Obama ordered the assassination of a United States citizen without giving him a trial to determine his guilt or innocence.
We have discussed the encroachment on the Fourth Amendment by TSA in airports.
But the true damage to the Fourth Amendment over the last generation has come from the courts, in interpreting the right in light of a police officer’s ability to search for drugs. It is really said that the “war” on the drug trade as resulted in such a legal blow to law abiding citizens.
The war on drugs has been an unmitigated disaster. That is not to say that we should not wage it. But it is to ask, at what cost?
Our courts have given us Terry frisks. Cops have the ability to search cars – not with probable cause, but with a lower-tiered “suspicion.” Although people now live out of their cars, nine old justices have determined that there isn’t a proper “expectation of privacy” in your car. Depending on where you are, there isn’t an expectation of privacy in your person. If you are at a friend’s house, there may not be an expectation of privacy. On and on it goes.
The fact is, the Courts have erased the basic principle of probable cause because the exceptions have become dangerously close to overwhelming the rule. The protections of the Fourth Amendment no longer seem as robust when an officer can pressure an uninformed citizen to waive the rights or get a warrant to search every nook and cranny simply of their life because a citizen has a drug addiction.
The solution, unfortunately, is going to have to be a libertarian push-back within both political parties. On the right, we are going to have to push people like Romney, who may not be inclined to bolster Constitutional rights, to nominate judges that aren’t just conservative – but libertarian. *Pro-life libertarian. On the left, Democrats need to be pushing their representatives to stand up for civil rights, something they’ve lost since Obama started killing everyone with his drones.
Finally, I would also encourage all parents to teach their children their rights when a police officer pulls them over. Every time we take our children through an airport, we need to remind them that although we are under the authority of TSA and must submit, their actions are unconstitutional. Our private schools need to be teaching more in the way of civics and Constitutional rights.
If we don’t push back, the Fourth Amendment will die by a thousand cuts.