Essay Example on The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution









The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified in the late 18th century as a part of the Bill of Rights The amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals and property In the second half of the 20th century with both Democrats and Republicans gaining majorities in the Supreme Court cases arose where exceptions to the Fourth Amendment were made I disagree with the decisions made in these cases as not only do they violate the Fourth Amendment but they disproportionately affected the minority populations of the United States notably the African American and the Latino The Supreme Court ruled in Terry v Ohio 1968 that stop and frisks do not constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment s restriction on unreasonable searches and seizures Chief Justice Earl Warren argued for the majority that officers had the authority to conduct a limited search of anyone s persons when they deemed an individual to be engaged in suspicious behavior that raised officers inquiry 

This suspicious behavior would typically be in the form of as was in the case a citizen potentially carrying a concealed weapon that may compromise an officer s safety This immediate danger to officers and others was regarded as more significant than any strain stop and frisks would have on community relations The Supreme Court ruled in United States v Martinez Fuerte 1976 that United States Border Patrol may stop and search vehicles near the Mexican border even when the officers don t have a warrant probable cause or suspicion The Court ruled it would be unreasonable for officers to seek out a warrant each time they decided to search a vehicle because that would inhibit the officers from performing their duties preventing smuggling and illegal immigration The Court ruled searches conducted at the border reasonable as the government s interest at the border outweighs any individual s right to privacy and security These duties aligned with governmental and public interests and thus outweighed the rights of the individual The Court acknowledged that the practice remains constitutional even when those stopped happen to be of perceived Mexican ancestry 

The aforementioned strain on community relations was amplified in the wake of Eric Garner's death The death was not the result of stop and frisk but rather the broken windows fallacy that challenging small crimes at higher rates would prevent more serious crimes Nonetheless the number of stop and frisks conducted by the Staten Island precinct where Eric Garner was arrested decreased by nearly 80 percent six months after his death Newsday online February 20 2015 Though Daniel Pantaleo the officer who killed Eric Garner was not indicted one could imagine that officers in that district would not want to be the next officer in the headlines for the reckless killing of an individual especially when that killing could lead to their indictment One could assume the reason the drop in stop and frisks occurred after Garner's death was because officers were now presented with a need to use discretion when engaging with citizens The high chance that other officers in other precincts around the city do not use the same discretion is why I disagree with stop and frisks one of many exceptions to the Fourth Amendment My main disagreement with border searches being an exception to the Fourth Amendment stems from the Court's rationale in United States v Martinez 1976 Above

I mentioned that the the Court ruled it would be unreasonable for officers to seek warrants for all vehicles they searched as that would prohibit them from doing their job protecting the public I view this rationale as the Court agreeing to void the rights Fourth Amendment of some individuals those of perceived Mexican ancestry of the public as an agency United States Border Patrol cannot perform its job without doing so No government should be able to invalidate the rights of a protected class in the name of security of the public to which the class belongs No government should treat the rights of individuals as secondary especially when the reason is that it makes the government's job easier Individuals and groups in society constitute the public so it seems contradictory to say government can protect the public by infringing on the rights of the public This contradictory reasoning only becomes logical when the true reason is that government intends to protect some of the public by undermining the rights of others in the public Though the Fourth Amendment exceptions outlined above are intended to prevent crime and protect the public the exceptions are discriminatory to certain members of the public and essentially nullifies their Fourth Amendment right a basic right our founding fathers prescribed Even after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 the government of the United States particularly its judicial system has developed ways of rendering historically underrepresented groups of America second class citizens stripping them of basic rights ones the Court is supposed to protect

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