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The Fourth Amendment allows for people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. This gives citizens assurance that authoritative figures such as police officers cannot search them without probable cause or a search warrant. To gain a warrant, law enforcement officers must have probably cause “supported by Oath or affirmation”. A core value of American society is justice, and there is no justice without the protection that is granted in the Fourth Amendment.
The origins of the Fourth Amendment date back to the pre-Revolutionary war era. The founding father of the Fourth Amendment, James Otis, once said, “Can there be any liberty where property is taken away without consent?” Before the American colonies declared independence, British soldiers could search and seize for any reason they saw fit. This, along with many other injustices, caused the colonies to secede from Great Britain.
Police today can manipulate information to make it seem like a search or seizure was reasonable when it wasn’t. Another concern today is whether evidence gathered in an illegal search, one without a warrant, is admissible in court. In the case Mapp v. Ohio, Dollree Mapp was convicted of possessing obscene materials after an admittedly illegal police search of her home for a fugitive. She took the case to the Supreme Court, and they decided that “all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by [the Fourth Amendment], inadmissible in a state court.” If the police had attained a warrant to search the apartment, everything would have been done legally, and Mapp would have been arrested and convicted.
New technology raises a significant concern regarding the Fourth Amendment. Today, companies and government agencies have the tools to unreasonably search citizens in the United States. For example, in 2013, Edward Snowden leaked documents that described NSA surveillance on citizens in the United States. They monitored millions of phone calls and other private data of the people. Without the technology in place, this monitoring of citizens would not have happened, and as technology continues to grow at a rapid rate, it will become easier for others to spy on citizens. This is a problem as the Fourth Amendment is designed to prevent this, but it seems like the government is willing to go over the written Bill of Rights to accomplish any goals that they have.
The Fourth Amendment is designed to protect the privacy of the people, and to prevent the government from becoming to overpowering and overbearing in citizens everyday lives. Without it, police can search citizens at will, invade homes, and force cooperation of people. This is barbaric behavior and the founders were right in guaranteeing the right against unreasonable searches and seizures in the constitution.
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