"America's Soft Police State"
It's not an issue most Republican or Democratic politicians are eager to discuss, but the protections guaranteed to us in the Fourth Amendment are under assault. It didn't happen overnight, but rather by a slow, steady, accumulation of laws, regulations, and court opinions. But the end result is the same: the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and we all now live in what can only be called a "soft police state" --
We may not sense its severity and doom like runaway slaves or Anne Frank, but the freedoms of the greatest number of Americans have never been more threatened and violated institutionally -- both openly and secretively -- by our own government.
The Fourth Amendment, which is the law limiting government power to search and seize our persons and most private property, has been gutted by executive and administrative actions, congress">Congress, and the courts -- the very bodies that were supposed to enforce it on government. This American Bill of Right is based in English common law, and was written to prevent what’s now called a “police state.”
Although Americans now live in a soft police state, we may not understand how we got to this point, or why reclaiming the Fourth Amendment is essential to retaining our exceptionalism that flows from freedom. Also, a proposed 21st Century Fourth Amendment introduced in the virginia">Virginia General Assembly this year is a model that can restore this Bill of Right to its rightful status.
The Fourth Amendment is quintessentially American even though it is based in English common law. It inherently relies on the separation of powers, but that too comes from the common law, and was forged through centuries-old battles between freedom and tyranny.
The Fourth Amendment is written in broad strokes covering many complex concepts, but has three basic parts -- trespass, process, and specificity. Understanding them, and the historical context from which they evolved, will help us reclaim this Bill of Right.