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Search and Seizures Under the Fourth Amendment of the US

Modern technology allows for searches into private records by anyone with a computer. It’s hardly arguable that the framers of the Constitution cherished liberty more than security. The same cannot be said about Americans today or their justice system.The Fourth Amendment readsThe 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. (Cornell Law School) The Founders thought this Amendment paramount in expressing their ideals of freedom and liberty. One of the main acts that helped alienate the colonists from their Mother Country was the intrusive, regular, violent warrant-less searches by the British ‘Red Coats.’ These actions galvanized the colonists thus accelerating the War for Independence. Throughout the history of the country, at least until relatively recently, the courts interpreted the Fourth Amendment much as the Founders intended. Courts held that for search and seizure to be ‘reasonable’ under the Amendment the police must have, at minimum individualized justification for the intrusion, amounting to probable cause. (Bodenhamer/Ely, 2008 p. 155) The past generation though has witnessed an erosion of the liberties found within the Fourth Amendment as well as other aspects of the Constitution. The Supreme Court’s practice had been to uphold a strict interpretation of the Amendment. As late as 1968 the Court ruled the police must, whenever practicable, obtain advance judicial approval of searches and seizures through a warrant procedure (Terry v. Ohio, 1968). In many ruling during the past 40 years, the Court has ruled, essentially, that theAmendment is an obstacle for law enforcement.