A Man’s House is His Castle: Summary

…continued from A Man’s House is His Castle: Arguments Against Fourth Amendment Limitations.

Summary
It is the recommendation of this author that rights established in the Fourth Amendment be interpreted broadly. While this author recognizes the need for National Security, this author also realizes the dangers of ceding one’s rights to government power.

It seems clear to this author that while the main intent of the Framers was to prevent government from performing abusive searches and seizure of a person’s home and belongs in the name of tax collection, the Framers also intended the Fourth Amendment to prevent all forms of search and seizure, reasonable or not, without a proper warrant.

The warrant system is one of the many checks and balances employed by this great nation to ensure that no one person or organization has all the power. To allow the Government to suspend or eliminate the parts of the Fourth Amendment at will is no different from reinstating general warrants or writs of assistance.

To allow the United States to realize a time of general warrants or writs of assistance would be catastrophic and could lead to civil unrest.

In 1763, during a debate over a cider tax and its enforcement requirements that would have allowed a liberal search provision, William Pitt remarked, “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter; all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!”1

The King is not above the law.

The President is not above the law.

The Constitution shall protect us.

–30–

Special thanks to those who edited it:

  • Kim Russell
  • Corinne Johnson
  • Joyce Raveling
  • Mom

Download: A Man’s House is His Castle: A Discussion on the Fourth Amendment and National Security


  1. Cohen, William and Danelski, David J. Constitutional Law: Civil Liberty and Individual Rights. New York : Foundation Press, 2002. 1-58778-075-5. p. 775 

4 Replies to “A Man’s House is His Castle: Summary”

  1. President Bush, with the help of Attorney General Mukasey, is setting up a system whereby the those who hold the office of the president will, in effect, be wholly above the law. (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-turley4mar04,0,4839406.story) The rising trend is that the office of the president is being endowed with more and more powers, and Congress is either too lazy, too stupid, or too fearful to do anything about it. And with the president hand-picking more and more members of the Judicial branch, the president is quickly becoming the despotic king from whom we declared independence almost 232 years ago. It’s almost as though we’ve come full circle, and your paper on the expansion of executive powers to overshadow the 4th amendment makes that point quite nicely. I’m a little bit surprised by your final conclusion, I don’t really believe you’ve proved that, but good paper.

  2. @Staples:

    After discussing the papers in class, I do wish that I focused more on right of the people versus power of the government. I think there are also two major flaws in my paper.

    First, I assume the reader knows certain things and I assume that they can connect all the dots themselves. In conversation, someone can say that they don’t understand; but the inherent form of writing a paper makes it a one way street, so there is no such feedback.

    Second, I probably spent too much time discussing the history and interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. I knew this was going to be an issue and I tried to keep the paper from wondering too much. There’s actually quite a bit of history that I left out in the interest of brevity. In any event, this point goes back to desire to write more about the right versus power argument.

    So you’re right that I didn’t prove my point, at least not as well as I could have.

  3. @Staples:

    I read the LA Times article and it’s definitely an interesting thought experiment. However, it’s seems like a giant round-robin blame game that could easily be stopped by asking, rhetorically, “If the President asked you to kill your mother, would you do it?” Likewise, if your lawyer told you that it was okay to kill someone, would you do that?

    American is in serious need of shot of TakeResponsiblityForYourOwnDamnActions™.

    By the way, I received 98/100 on my paper.

  4. First, congratulations on the good grade. Nicely done.

    The article is not positing a thought experiment. It is describing a growing legal reality whereby the President can use an infinite loophole that will absolve himself and others of any blame for any crime, no matter how heinous. He can do whatever he wants, and if he’s ever called to task all he has to do is say that lawyers told him to do it (and nobody can ask the lawyers if this is true because they’re protected under executive privilege). He is immune under this system. It’s more than just a nightmare, it’s coming true.

    I agree with your assessment of our needs as Americans; that’s why I’m a libertarian.

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