Charlotte, NC – “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 4A was intended to 1) protect U.S. citizens from abusive searches and seizures by the government and 2) provide a framework from which to develop and fair criminal justice system. Just as with first three amendments, the 4A establishes behavioral expectations for the government and guarantees the protection of Divinely-endowed, inherent rights of citizens. Although most people are familiar with the concepts of “probable cause” and “search warrants”, most do not realize how drastically our 4A freedoms have changed throughout US history.
Through Weeks v. United States, Wolf v. Colorado, and Mapp v. Ohio, the Supreme Court has ruled that unreasonable search and seizure also applies to the states and that evidence found as a result of unlawful searches cannot be used against a defendant in court – a progressive, albeit fair conclusion – which is reasonable enough for most conservatives. The perpetual problem courts have faced with the language of the 4A, however, is in the word “unreasonable”.
The inherent ambiguity of the word “unreasonable” has become a channel through which our individual liberties have slipped away. By sacrificing liberty for the sake of security, both Democrat and Republican legislatures have voted for progressive policies that now stand in defiance to the behavioral expectations established in the 4A.
The prime example of 4A erosion is Civil Asset Forfeiture – which is a legal concept that allows police officers to seize property they “reasonably” believe has been involved with a crime. The CAF policy does not require police to have a search warrant in hand before seizure of property, nor does it require that a crime to have been committed. The Heritage Foundation, Charles Koch Institute, ACLU, and even the Daily Caller have each written extensively on the issue. Property seized as CAF is often not returned to the victim, and, if so, is only returned after the victim pays severe fines.
Gun seizure, or “red flag“, laws also fall under unlawful seizure as it was originally designed by the 4A. Both Democrat and Republican legislators are implicit in the government’s breach of the 4A by promoting red flag laws. In 2018, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., SC) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., CT) – the same Mr. Blumenthal who lied about his service in Vietnam – co-sponsored S.2521 which, if passed, would create a national system of gun confiscation from individuals a magistrate “reasonably” believes is a risk to his/her self or others.
Sen. Graham, an early and loyal supporter of President Trump, has been exceptionally outspoken in his support for red flag since the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas last year. At the time of writing, S.2521 has not progressed past the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Sen. Graham is the Chairman.
Digital data security, which is classified under “houses, papers, and effects”, has become another area in which the government has violated the 4A. The breach of constitutionality began under the FISA Act of 1978 and was worsened by the Electronic Communications Act of 1986 and the US Patriot Act of 2001. Sen. Graham has also recently introduced in the Senate the ‘Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act’ which would ban warrant-proof end-to-end encryption of digital data.
The impetus for the law is to crack down on child pornography and boost counter-terrorism efforts, however, it means that no data – at all – cannot be breached by the government regardless of the 4A. Again, Congress seeks to sacrifice liberty and privacy on the alter of safety.
The singular way to change the tide of these blatant constitutional abuses is to hold your elected officials responsible for their own choices, especially in primary elections and in down-ballot elections. Swamp rats like Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal have voted to give themselves more and more power every year they have been in office but never seem to have serious contenders from their own party.
Thankfully, the process does not begin at the level of the Senate most of the time. Thoroughly research the political candidates for whom you would vote at the community level. Oftentimes, it is a Mayor or a School Board Chair that becomes a state-level representative, who then becomes a member of the U.S. House.
The direction our government is moving is towards totalitarianism, specifically towards a communist-totalitarian model. Congress wants unfettered access to all of your private data and will either vote to get itself such power, or it will manipulate tech companies into providing for them. At the same time, Republicans and Democrats alike are pushing for the authority to seize your weapons.
Even if your grandfather’s shotgun cannot be take by a red flag mechanism, it could be still taken as a civil asset forfeiture. Beyond concerns specific to the 4A, our Congress also wants to manage your healthcare, defund your local police departments, and pay-out reparations for past injustices. Do you feel the liberty yet?
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