I can has Fourth Amendment?

(If you don’t get the title, go kill some brain cells at ICHC until you recognize the subtle, incisive irony thereof.)

For those of you who aren’t as American as I am, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

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.

Simple, effective, and easily understood… you’d think.  Of course, governments are notoriously incapable of understanding the text of the documents that authorize them, and if you’ve been paying any attention whatsoever over the past few years you’ll have noticed that the Fourth Amendment isn’t that popular in the U.S. these days.

This may be changing:

(Hat tip: The Liberty Papers)

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”

Incidentally, if “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” sounds familiar to you, it should: it’s the same act the Democrats recently renewed with even broader powers than the President asked for.  (But who’s counting?)

Judge Aiken, incidentally, is my own personal hero:

“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law – with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” she wrote.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield’s lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to shout and pump my fist whilst reading an Associated Press article.  I am grateful to Judge Aiken for the (I’m sure) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.



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