By Tyler Bauer
This is the fourth of many blog posts that will be taking a deeper look at the various amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as proposed amendments to the United States Constitution which failed. The text of each amendment is taken from constitutionus.com and information on failed amendments is taken from www.lexisnexus.com.
The Fourth Amendment
What it Says
“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.”
What it Means
We all have a right to privacy, and that right applies to our bodies and all of our possessions. Searches and seizures – either of ourselves or our property – cannot be done without a warrant (unless we consent to searches and seizures). Any search warrant must be issued based upon probable cause, and search warrants must be specific in stating the places and objects to be searched.
Why it Matters
Our right to privacy is essential for our freedom. Without this right, our bodies and possessions could be searched at any time and for any reason, regardless of whether a search warrant is issued or we consent to the search. It’s hard to imagine a world where the police could barge into your home at any time, and this right is what prevents such a thing happening.
Our Fourth Amendment rights are constantly under attack. For example, on many holidays, the police will set up DUI checkpoints on commonly-travelled roads in hopes of catching and preventing drunk drivers. While this is a noble cause, it violates our right to privacy. You are forced to stop, presumed to be guilty, and are pressured into taking some sort of sobriety test, all without a warrant.
Thankfully, most of us haven’t had our rights violated in a DUI checkpoint. However, this doesn’t mean our rights don’t get violated. The government is constantly spying on you. I know this sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, but it’s actually true. Although the NSA initially claimed it was only collecting information from foreigners, that’s not true. The NSA is collecting your information, too. The data the NSA is collecting consists of phone calls, emails, social media posts, and instant messages. All of this data is collected without a legitimate warrant, and even when warrants are issued (which only occurs in a few cases), these warrants are issued by a secret court that neither you nor I can know anything about.
Even if you have nothing to hide, do you really want to be subject to searches and seizures at any time and any place? You probably don’t. That is why the Fourth Amendment is so important, and the fact that it’s violated so regularly is one of the worst things our government does.