Got Warrant?

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

“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.”

I see a few keywords here, “secure in their… papers” (could that just possible mean information?) “no warrant” without “probable cause supported by oath”( another excellent phrase). Hmm… did the Founding Fathers suspect that even their own new govermnent might get too big and nosy someday? Maybe they had prior experience, oh maybe like King George the III.

 Seems to me the Founding Fathers were the “Smartest Guys in the Room”, and still are.

I have heard of instances where a homeowner, harrassed by a sensless worker, quoted the Fourth Amendment and then shut the door. Hmm…

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2 Responses

  1. I didn’t say the Fourth Amendment applies and I didn’t say it didn’t. I said that there have been American citizens who have quoted it to a census worker as part of their refusal to answer questions. I guess that comes under the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech. As far as I know American citizens are still free enough (so far) to quote the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, recite The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, or sing Yankee Doodle if they like, to anyone who is standing on their property.
    The term “papers” is used in the in the Fourth Amendment. Typically, “papers” were, and still are, a storage system for information. Therefore, I would present the argument that in this case the word “information” could be interchangeable with the word “papers” that was used in 1791 when the Fourth Amendment was written.
    I also didn’t say that the Census Bureau was “seizing” anything. However, many Americans think the Census Bureau is making unreasonable demands for information or “papers” if you will. Try filling out the American Community Survey without having to go to your particular file system and look up information about your mortgage, deed to your home, medical treatments, and other information that most of us just don’t carry around in our heads or wallets. Even an electronic file is called a document and documents are sometimes called “white papers”.
    It is a simple head count that is mandated in the Constitution. It isn’t a not-relevant-to-representation information gathering frenzy that is mandated.
    Even when brought in for questioning by the police an American citizen has the right to remain silent and talk to a lawyer first. So I’m figuring a temporary census worker isn’t really carrying all that much clout.

  2. Except that nobody is being seized, and nor is any property, and the Census is mandated in the Constitution. To think that the 4th applies is a gross misreading.

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