Analysis of the 4th Amendment Essay

Analysis of the 4th Amendment Essay

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The Bill of Rights or the first 10 amendments to the Constitution was proposed to Congress in 1789 by James Madison in response to the Anti- Federalist movement that lobbied for an extended amount of rights that would further safeguard liberty. The 4th amendment in particular was drafted to acknowledge the abuse of the writ of assistance, a “search warrant” issued by the British government to search boats that were thought to contain smuggled material in Colonial America. The 4th amendment can be broken down into 3 parts: what activities are considered to be a “search” or a “seizure”; what is a probable cause for a “search” and “seizure” and finally, how violations should be dealt with. The evolution of the 4th amendment is long and tumultuous, starting from what it meant at time of drafting, to the controversy over different interpretations in modern times. Through all the controversies and the debate over the meaning of the 4th amendment, the essence is always the same: to protect man’s liberty.
The 4th amendment, as we know it today, states as such:
“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 origin of the 4th amendment dates all the way back to Pre-Revolutionary America, where Britain, in order to cut down on the amount of smuggling to and from the colonies, issued an order known as the writs of assistance which entailed that specially appointed warrants had the right to search homes and boats of colonists and if found, seize prohibite...


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...ourt case (Katz v. United States,1967) the clause extended itself to not only the physical property of a “search” but also a right to privacy, meaning that no law enforcer has the right to, for example, listen in to phone calls. The “seizure” clause in the amendment has to do with taking peoples property without the consent of the person. If the person does not consent however, the law enforcer has the right to go to a judge and present a case as to why the person’s property should be seized. If there is enough evidence, the judge may sign a written “permission slip” that allows the warrant to search and seize a person’s property even without their consent.
To search or to seize a person’s property a law enforcer must present evidence to a judge in a court of law that the person has prohibited goods or evidence that the person has been involved in a criminal act.

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