Search and Seizure

February 6, 2015

          Our Bill of Rights is contained in the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution.  Are some of our protections and rights more important than others?  Why are the courts more deferential to certain rights?


          For example, we give due respect to the right of free speech and assembly (First Amendment).  The right to bear arms is highly regarded (Second Amendment).  The several protections, including the right against self-incrimination and in favor of due process of law, are often enforced by the courts (Fifth Amendment).  We can confront and subpoena witnesses, and enjoy the right of counsel if accused of a crime (Sixth Amendment).


          However, what happened to our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment?  The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that it is not unreasonable for a police officer, ignorant of a traffic law, to wrongly pull over and stop a motorist for what he or she mistakenly thought was a violation.


          Every one of us is presumed to know the law.  Ignorance of the law is not an excuse if you are accused of breaking the law.  But a police officer can now be wrong about the law and still legally stop and seize a person, according to the United States Supreme Court.


          It seems like the Fourth Amendment, unlike other Amendments, does not matter anymore.