The constitution of the United States is considered as one of the oldest written constitution in the world which is still in effect. It was drafted by the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 17, September, 1787. However, the constitution consists of 27 amendments which are known as the bill of rights (Newman, 1999, pg 1). Basically, they guarantee individuals protections as the citizens of the United States of America. Apparently, there are many proposed amendments to the constitutions but only 17 amendments are said to be ratified. In addition, ratification of the proposed amendments is a process that takes a long time to be implemented because it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This process basically was to approve the amendments despite that there were two groups which were enacting the process of ratification. The federalist supported ratification of the constitution while the non-federalist opposed. This paper develops an insight on the process related to constitutional amendments and in particular protection from unreasonable search and seizure which is the 4th amendment that is among the 27 amendments in the constitution. It was added on the bill of rights on December 15, 1791. (Newman, 1999, pg 1). However, it guarantees protection to the citizens from unreasonable searching and seizures of their home or private property without proper search warrant from the court.
The fourth amendment provides; 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. (Hess, Orthmann, and Wrobleski, pg 211). However, this amendment is considered as a prolific source in the American constitution as it grew from the experience of the colonials. It was adopted in response to protection against the writs of assistance which was the general search warrant that was abused by the government during the American Revolution. Basically, this amendment was proposed and ratified in order to regulate the powers that the government agency who were conducting the search on the individual private properties. Therefore, there was a maxim that was generated in England every mans house is his castle that was demonstrated in the Semaynes case (1603). This maxim purported the experience of the insistence on the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures that were conducted by the law enforcement agency, whereas the freedom was regarded as a fundamental right by the colonies. In addition, the ruling decision in the Semaynes case purported that the homeowner has a right to defend his house against unlawful entry including even the kings agent but n the other hand, entry was regarded as legal as long as authority was given to appropriate officers to break in the house upon notice in order to conduct search and carry on the kings process. On the contrary to the context, the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures were arisen out of the three cases that occurred during the 18th century. In one the case the English cases, Entick vs. Carrington the Entick sued the government agency since they invaded the house of the John Wilkes without a specific warrant that states neither the person nor the place to conduct search or seizure. However, this was an issue that influenced provision of a probable cause on an issued warrant. . ("Annotation 1 - Fourth Amendment - FindLaw")
On the other hand, the ratification of the fourth amendment was based on the experience of the English general warrants and writs of assistance that enabled it to be featured in the American constitution. However, the amendment underwent some several changes whereby Madison introduced it as bill of right whereby its only probable cause that will violate the right through issuance of a warrant but rather an individual was guaranteed protection against unreasonable searches or seizures in person, their houses, properties and papers. However, the warrant was supposed to describe the place and persons or things to be seized in order to violate the right. The consequent changes in language of the initially rejected amendment to led to the passage in the congress and ratified to appear in the constitution. On the contrary to this context, the fourth amendment has two parts, the first part basically involves the searches and seizures clause which does not involve courts actions but rather it is considered to be a political statement. On the other hand, the second part involves the warrant clause which involves courts actions when a probable cause is evident. Therefore, the amendment was considered to enact protection to the rights of the political community and not injecting immunity to an individual against the agents intrusion. Today the fourth amendment is generally considered as a prolific constitutional litigation that provides constraints to the government whenever it wants to search or seize a person or his/her property it must provide a probable cause in order for the judge to issue warrant whereas general warrants are not applicable whatsoever .("Annotation 1 - Fourth Amendment - FindLaw")
According to Newman, amendments may either be proposed by the congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the house of the representatives and the senate or by the constitutional conventions called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. However, the congress is considered to propose an amendment in form of a joint resolution since the constitution does not provide the president with the role of participating in the amendment process. Therefore the joint resolution has no mandate to go to the white house for approval or signature hence the original document is directly forwarded for processing and publication by the NARA. On the other hand, the process amendments ratifications begins when the activists submits the proposed amendments to the states. A letter of notification is sent to each governor of the states along with the informational material from the Office of the Federal Register. Consequently, the governor issues the amendments to the state legislators in a formal way whereas in the past some state legislators were regarded not to wait to receive notice in order to commence on acting on the proposed amendments. An original copy of the state action is sent to the Activists after a state ratifies the proposed amendments then it is later conveyed to the director of the Director of the Federal Register. However, when three-fourths of the states ratify the proposed amendments, it becomes part of the constitution while on the other hand; the states may reject ratification of the proposed amendment and send official documents to NARA. (Newman)
The fourth amendment was meant to abolish to the writs of assistance during the American colonial period. However, it was employed by tax collectors to search homes of the colonists and seize goods that they found there. Basically, it was type of a general warrant which was abused by the tax collectors since they could seize any kind of goods that they found in the house of the colonists. As a result, the purpose of the fourth amendment was to limit the powers of the government and their ability to enforce legal actions on individuals. Therefore, it further guards the government from conducting search and seizures when the specific individual has the reasonable right of privacy upon his/her properties. In addition, for the searches and seizures to be effective and reasonable, the fourth amendment specifically requires a law enforcement agency to acquire a judicial warrant before conducting searches and seizures into a person property. Furthermore, a warrant would not be issued if there is no probable cause. However, this amendment only applies to government agencies when carrying out searches and seizures but does not apply to citizens and organizations that originally have no ties to the government. It is subject to matters relating to criminal law although there is always a conflict surrounding the amendment between whether or not it force the police to follow the bill of rights and hindering them to conduct investigations. Today, the amendment protects the American citizens properties from searches and seizures that may be conducted without a solid reason, still it extend further protections on the citizens privacy and unwarranted arrest. ("4th Amendment - Constitution | Laws.com")
In conclusion, the fourth amendment is applied today in America whereby it citizens are guaranteed protection against irrational conduct by police. Furthermore, exclusionary rule permits the court to exclude incriminating evidence that was got against the constitutional provision. Every American citizen is protected by this amendment against unwarranted searches and seizures and guaranteed right of privacy. However, searches and seizures could only be permissible in a case whereby the police have a proven probable cause that will persuade the court to issue warrant of investigation.
Hess, Karen M, Christine M. H. Orthmann, and Henry M. Wrobleski. Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Australia: Delmar Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Newman, Roger K. From Preamble to Article Two, Section 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1999. Print.
"4th Amendment - Constitution | Laws.com." Constitution | Constitution- Constitution Law, US Constitution, The Constitution, Constitutional Law. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
"Annotation 1 - Fourth Amendment - FindLaw." Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2015."
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