By Clinton Gill
Glade Sun editor
As noted in my last column, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states, "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 founding fathers did not write the Constitution to protect criminals; rather the Bill of Rights was coined to protect the freedom of the citizenry. "Innocent people have nothing to hide" is a phrase used by tyrants and fools. The former use it trick people into giving up their sovereignty, the latter consent to the manipulation because they assume it will always apply to someone else – it's always easier to give up someone else's liberty, particularly when you think they might be guilty of something. Former Communist Leader Vladimir Lenin is attributed with terming the supporters of these power grabs "useful idiots" because they are too naive to realize that eventually their freedoms will be affected, as well.
It is a false assumption to presume that if someone doesn't want to be searched then they must be guilty of a crime. Police often use this tactic in order to get people to consent to being searched without having to go through the administrative hassle of having to obtain a warrant. This is not to suggest that the police are out to get you. Although there are some unscrupulous people in law enforcement, the vast majority are heroes who strive to keep us safe and often do so facing great personal danger. The police have a very tough job, and it's never-ending. The majority of their time is spent dealing with the worst society has to offer. Under those conditions comes a natural psychological progression that leads to an assumption that everyone is guilty. However, assumptions do not make convictions; evidence does. This is one reason why we have due process, courts and trial by jury. The job for police then, is to provide enough evidence to prove their assumptions.
There are currently so many laws on the books that everyone is probably guilty of something, whether they know it or not. Just because a bill becomes a law doesn't mean its legal. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Nevertheless, both state and federal legislatures pass laws with some regularity that violate the Constitution. As Senator Diane Feinstein recently noted, "Congress is in the business of making law; the Supreme Court interprets the law – [if] they strike down the law, they strike down the law." It is much easier and less time consuming for the legislature to pass laws than it is for the judicial branch to determine if a law passes Constitutional muster.
Tragedy is a catalyst for seizing power. When it strikes, the public at large demands more security and allows intrusions into their privacy that they would not normally allow. Statists use this to their advantage. One such proposal came to us from Washington state just last month. Senate Bill 5737 was introduced by Democrats in February in response to the national debate on gun control. The bill stated, "In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person in possession shall...safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection."
The provisions of this bill clearly violate the Fourth Amendment, as it would have potentially given law enforcement the authority to come into private residences any time, day or night (up to once per year), without a warrant to "conduct an inspection" – and who's to say what they would find. The potential for abuse under such provision is very real and very scary. Luckily SB 5737 is dead for this session, but it highlights the importance of the Fourth Amendment.
Everyone has something in their life that is, or should be, private to them. Whether its something in their underwear drawer, an old love letter, old pictures of a parent, a telephone conversation with a business partner or a legally owned semi-automatic handgun. Everyone has something they don't want strangers going through. Everyone has something the government has no business going through. Free people have a right to expect that kind of privacy, and that right should be jealously and vociferously guarded.
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." – Benjamin Franklin