How does the 4th amendment affect us today
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. People are entitled to feel safe when they are at home and with their personal effects. If a search or seizure is necessary, there should be a warrant. Issuance of permits relevant only when there is probable cause (Huff, 2014). The warrant also is particular in areas of search and the person of interest. The context of this amendment was the numerous searches by King George during the British colonization.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, various things have changed significantly. Specifically, some of the measures the government has taken tend to undermine the privileges of the Fourth Amendment. A principal contention is about the Patriots Act and how it surrounds the Fourth Amendment. The Act directly contradicts the Fourth Amendment and its privileges.
After the wake of increased terrorism, the government needed to take strict actions for protecting the people. The Patriot Act creates a provision for law enforcers such as FBI to search people (Stefoff, 2011). They can conduct searches so much time as they have reason to believe it is important. The searches could be premises, property, books, phones and any other place or thing they determine.
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The Patriot Act defines privileges of the Fourth Amendment by probable cause (Vile & Hudson, 2013). The Act does not require FBI to have probable cause. They just need to be suspicious, which will give them a reason to believe a search is warranted. Initially, the court could not just issue an order just because there was a reason to believe a person is suspicious. Currently, it is all an FBI requires to search or seize property or premises.
Although a large vote passed the Patriot's Act by Congress, the Act raised major debates among citizens and other concerned parties. Not to mean that people are against the fight against terror but how the government is fighting it. Compromising people’s entitlement in the name of fighting terror is unacceptable. There are ways of combating terror and still protecting the rights of individuals.
Another common way the government has gone against the Fourth Amendment is through surveillance. National surveillance was launched during George Bush’s administration and every communication device in the nation was under surveillance. Cell phones, internet traffic, emails and instant messages are all monitored by the Department of Homeland Security (Stefoff, 2011).
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The sanction had to be made to identify suspicious activities when people are communicating. Although it may seem impossible to capture all data and information, the department tries to get as much as it can. Secrecy and unpredictability characterize terrorism. Terrorist tend to use unobvious ways of communicating with each other while planning terror. By monitoring all communication methods, it will be possible to identify suspicious activity going on.
National surveillance has made a significant leap in combating terrorism. Various issues arise because of this surveillance program. Protection of other civilians is also real when fighting crimes by detecting them via surveillance. Continued monitoring will guarantee that there are no threats that will go unattended.
The dilemma surrounding this topic is the priority of demands and needs. Americans need security from terrorism. They may not afford to have a repeat of September 11 attacks or any other major misfortunes from terrorism. On the other hand, they demand to enjoy privileges and entitlements provided in the constitution (Huff, 2014). They have a right to privacy and personal security. Americans need to feel that no one is watching them all the time.
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It means that there is a sacrifice that people ought to do. Americans need to understand that it may not be possible to have every privilege and entitlement even when other factors are still determining the situation. In this case, the key determinant is terrorism. When creating the constitution, different circumstances were evident. There is also no prediction of how security has threatened today’s world. Therefore, we are living in extraordinary circumstances requiring special measures.
Terrorists do not have care about the rights and privileges or even laws about any country. Their ideologies and beliefs lead them. When they wage attacks on Americans, it is based on malice and irrationality. Therefore, Americans have the challenge to do what they have to in response. It means enacting measures that guarantee national security. It is the context of the Patriot’s Act (Stefoff, 2011).
The government is not inconsiderate of the Fourth Amendment. It makes the efforts to prevent laws and rights from being infringed unnecessarily. For example, the border searchers are meant to stop terrorists or illegal items from getting into the country. When people get into the country through any form of a border, they are searched and cross-matched with databases. It is to ensure that illegal or wanted people by law do not access the country.
Despite the compromises that the individuals and the government have been forced to do for national security, there should be more efforts towards protecting people’s entitlement. The government should not bend the requirements of the constitution just for the name of national security. Americans, on the other hand, should be supportive and appreciate the efforts of the government. Confronting the challenges of terrorism is not just a responsibility of the government. It is for both the government and the citizens.
Huff, L. E. (2014). The Fourth Amendment: Select issues and cases. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Vile, J. R., & In Hudson, D. L. (2013). Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment. Thousand Oaks, Calif: CQ Press.
Stefoff, R. (2011). The Patriot Act. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.
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