Why conservatives should rally to the Fourth Amendment's defense

  • 20 May 2015
  • NormanL
Why conservatives should rally to the Fourth Amendment's defense

We have written extensively on the multiple threats government at all levels poses to the Fourth Amendment. But some readers have asked us: why should conservatives care? This article gives us a solid reason to care -- and why the need for conservatives to rally to the Amendment's defense has never been greater:

The Fourth Amendment is one of the most important arrows in the quiver against bullying big government.  It was created in response to attacks on business, religious freedom, and critics of government.  It is quintessential American law over government.

Conservatives have a window to influence how the Fourth Amendment will be defined in ways that protect freedoms, yet maintain security, just as the Founders envisioned the purposes of government.

Liberals and libertarians are focusing on "privacy," which is fine, but privacy does not comprehend the full purposes of the Fourth Amendment.  For example, they are ignoring administrative subpoenas (judge-less warrants issued by bureaucrats without probable cause), which have been the single biggest threat of big government bullying in the context of lawless investigations.  Investigations force businesses and people to concede to lawless big-government interpretations by bureaucrats because the costs of litigation and perceived negative publicity discourage fighting them on principle.

Administrative subpoenas were created by the FDR regime and upheld by FDR judges in order to keep government’s thumb on free commerce. They violate the fundamental legal guarantee that only judges may issue warrants. The Founders experienced these judge-less warrants against merchants, critics of government, and proponents of religious liberty, and crafted the Fourth Amendment as a check on totalitarianism.

Especially with today’s attacks on religious freedom, but with all the attacks on free speech and free markets, unless we get rid of judge-less administrative subpoenas, the reforms over collecting phone records and computer data will have little effect on preventing the continued transformation of America into a more socialist, God-less country.

The Fourth Amendment is the essential tool for limiting government power. That's one reason why government has worked for so many years to weaken the protections and guarantees it provides.