Once again this is an amendment limiting the government’s power. In particular it limits the government to search your personal property. You have the right as an American citizen to not be searched by the government unreasonably. It is about your personal security being more important than the government’s security. This is a key point and we will discuss it in a moment. The government in order to be in the line of a reasonable search must meet the standards proscribed by the amendment which are: 1) probable cause, 2) this cause must be supported by an oath or affirmation and 3) the government must be specific in what is being searched for and what is to be seized. It might be argued that the first half of this is the right that the government cannot interfere with and the second is the part that tells the government what they must do so they are not violating that right. If there are some debatable points to this amendment, it is the terms ‘unreasonable’ and ‘probable cause’.
Unreasonable search is something lawyers debate about constantly. The issue is that the amendment is definitely taking the side of the right of the individual against the government. This means that in order to search a person and seize their property you better have good reason to do so. In order to define this I think the amendment does so with the requirements listed above. That said there are two current things going on that I think illustrate the issue.
Airport security routinely checks people as they get on a plane. In so doing they neither have probable cause, they have no oath or affirmation nor do they specify what specifically they are searching for. In my opinion, this is a violation of rights spelled out in the fourth amendment. Some argue this is a reasonable search but the problem is that the amendment defines what must be done for this to be so. The problem as I see it is that TSA is a government institution and not a private one. The truth is that the airline industry should have hired a private company to do the searches and we would have to comply to ride on the planes. In this case we can simply chose to go to another airline that does not have this requirement. To be honest part of the problem is that the airlines violate the right of an American citizen to bear arms on the plane. I doubt that most hijackers would go after a plane where they knew the pilots, crew and possible several passengers were armed. My problem is the government is doing the searching and seizing and they do it without probable cause, a witness of some sort of wrongdoing or specifics on what they are looking for. in addition when they seize stuff from you are you compensated for the loss? No, and this to is a violation of the idea of property rights.
The other thing that is going on right now is the routine checks in New York. The stop and frisk rule looking for drugs. Now I have already been beaten to the punch on this one as several suits have been brought against this law and all of them are under fourth amendment grounds. To be honest I hope they win. This is so much exactly what the founding fathers were trying to prevent with this amendment. It so clearly violates it I wonder what reasoning process the lawmakers in New York were using to make up the law.
The point is it is your right not to be searched and have your property seized unless the government goes through the process of having probable cause and a warrant that is properly issued. If they don’t you have the right to tell them to go away and bother someone else.