June 21, 2013
To borrow from the British sage Samuel Johnson, Andrew McCarthy expounding on the Fourth Amendment is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.
In a recent National Review article, McCarthy sneers at Senator Rand Paul’s assertion of a “natural right” to the privacy of telephone usage records from government snooping absent probable cause to suspect crime or espionage. McCarthy’s rejection of “natural rights” betrays ignorance of the Declaration of Independence, which provided the philosophical background for the Constitution. Among other things, the Declaration maintains: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men …”
In other words, individuals enjoy a natural right to liberty, including the right to be left alone — the most cherished right among civilized people. Governments are established to secure that right, not to destroy it. Accordingly, citizens are endowed with a right to keep telephone usage records secret from the eyes of government. Big Brother must justify every invasion of that privacy, which Senator Paul’s proposed “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013” would require.