Why should we, the average American family, care about the Fourth Amendment and the impact of the FISA act, quietly extended over Christmas holidays when nobody was paying attention? The Fourth Amendment, providing protection against unreasonable and unwarranted search and seizure, really should only be a problem for someone who is doing something illegal, like selling drugs or planning terror, right? Wrong.
Did you know that if your sister goes on spring break to Mexico and calls home to tell everyone she arrived safely, the conversation might be taped by the government — more specifically the NSA? Sure, I know, you really don’t have anything to say to your sister that you would care if the government listens to, but that isn’t the point. The point is that one invasion into your privacy could lead to another and another. What right does the government have to gather evidence against citizens who have broken no laws?
Let’s take another example. What if your little Jewish grandmother is calling her sister in Israel? Let’s say they have a conversation about all the terrible things the Palestinians are doing and how your cousin Moishe is in the military and worried about a big invasion that might be about to happen. How about now? Is it a problem that Granny is being tape recorded by the NSA? When a big build up of troops in that area is all over the news does it make you just a little bit squeamish about calling your cousin in Israel again?
First it’s illegal wiretaps of innocent civilians who have committed no crime; next it is illegally searching your son’s locker at school; then it is being groped at the airport when you are flying out to attend a funeral, who knows where it will end. All of these activities are illegal on the part of the government and the people conducting them. How can they be illegal if the Congress passed the law allowing them?
Any law passed by Congress that prima facia contradicts the legally enacted Constitution and its amendments, is illegal. It is null and void. It will not stand up to legal scrutiny. However, if nobody challenges it legally, then it goes on until someone does. The Fourth Amendment isn’t dead, it’s just being ignored. When the people get enough of being poked, prodded, groped and spied upon, they’ll stand up and reclaim their rights. Unless and until the people of the United States give their consent by repealing or amending the Fourth Amendment, we still have the freedom and the right to our privacy — if only we will demand it.