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
This Amendment to our Constitution was insisted upon by many in the days of our founding due to an instrument of law called Writs of Assistance. Long story short, these writs ended up being used as search warrants that did not expire and allowed searches basically anywhere with no specific warrant details being necessary. To help protect us in our persons and property the 4th amendment was drafted. Article XIV of the Massachusetts Declaration of the Rights written by John Adams served as the basis of the 4th Amendment.
The Supreme Court in and 8-1 decision upheld the lower Kentucky court decision allowing the warrantless search after police smelled marijuana and thought they heard noise that might have been occupants destroying incriminating evidence. This decision further guts our privacy removing more protections along with other eroding factors, usually for anti-drug and anti-terrorism. The problem is that once the power is granted the reasons for the grant do not limit the new powers application and as more power is granted it leads to more and more abuse and corruption.
“Police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant,” Ginsberg said.
Do not get me wrong. I’m not advocating doing drugs. I am just very concerned about how these changes in our society play out in our lives when these expanded powers are used in non-drug related cases. At the risk of being cynical expanded powers like these can be used by people of less integrity to make up excuses for searches. “I thought I smelled marijuana and I thought evidence was being destroyed”. It becomes a VERY subjective basis for invading the privacy of Americans and one that dishonest people can just lie about to validate their actions.
What happens when it is our door being kicked down? In our wars on drugs and terrorism out law enforcement had become more and more militarized. Many will say it is not a big deal if you have nothing to hide. To them I point out that in this environment of more aggressive police action mistakes are all the more worrisome and too often lead to tragedy.
The Indiana Supreme Court has even ruled that there is no right to resist unlawful entry into ones home!
“We believe. . .a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” wrote Justice Steven David.
We often hear and speak about incrementalism in regard big government. When do we take a stand on the incremental invasion of our privacy and our property? How much are we willing to give up?