This Week’s Senate Scandal: Its Scorn for the 4th Amendment


Conor Friedersdorf
theatlantic.com
Decemb er 28, 2012

I haven’t passed the bar, but I know a little bit about the 4th Amendment. Have you read it lately? (You haven’t.) “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” it states in plain English, “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.”

That’s all of it.

The landline in your house? The government needs a warrant to tap it. The letters in your mailbox? The government needs a warrant to read ‘em. It’s like the Framers said: probable cause is required.

Yet a text or an email, even one sent from your bed, is treated differently – it’s afforded much less protection from government snoops, even though we’re increasingly going all digital in our communication.

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