Temecula Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, February 17, 2011
Amendments III, and IV
The Founding Fathers feared a centralized government with a powerful military. One of the final straws that began the road to the American Revolution was the Quartering Act of 1765 where the colonists became required to house and feed the British troops they despised.
The Quartering Act was one of the reasons for the writing of the 3rd Amendment, which reads: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Tyrannical governmental systems use unwarranted influence through military means. To guard against the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power, the founder’s concerns about standing armies became evident in the 3rd Amendment.
To help the populace protect themselves, and be able to enforce the 3rd Amendment, in case the federal government violated the clause, the Founding Fathers also gave us the 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The concept is Militia. The suggestion is that the United States will not be one where there is a standing army. Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 gives the Congress the power to raise and support armies, but limits them to no more than two years funding.
When a military arm of a tyrannical government can compel the citizenry to house the military machinery of defense, a police state is present and liberty is at risk. Such is the thinking behind the 3rd Amendment.
Until the Revolutionary War, the American states had no military, and the militias were populated by the colonists. The Constitution gave the U.S. Government the authority to build a military for the defense of the union. A military establishment, in the minds of the Founders, was a potentially dangerous thing. The Founding Fathers desired to protect the union, but did not desire that the American military become a tool of a potentially tyrannical federal government.
The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution was added as part of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791. It was written with the purpose of protecting people from the searching of their homes and private property without properly executed search warrants.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, 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."
What this means is that the federal government, in order to search a person's home, business, papers, bank accounts, computer or other personal items, in most cases, must obtain a search warrant signed by the proper authority, which usually means by a judge.
The issuance of a warrant must accompany reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that by searching the premises of a particular location, evidence will be found that will verify the crime. The government officer does not have to be correct in his assumption, he just has to have a reasonable belief that searching someone's private property will yield evidence of the crime.
The 4th Amendment idea that citizens should be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures goes back into English history. The British Government was known for searches and seizures that were unlawfully conducted. Often these searches were conducted by the king's representatives.
The British government saw the American Colonies as a source of revenue. As a result, taxation against the American colonies was a continuous practice, in the hopes of generating as much money from the colonists as possible. The colonists resented this and engaged in substantial smuggling operations in order to get around the customs taxes imposed by the British government.
The King responded to the Colonist’s smuggling activities by using "writs of assistance," which were search warrants that were very broad and general in their scope. British agents, once obtaining these writs, could search any property they believed might contain contraband goods. They could enter someone's property with no notice and without any reason given. Tax collectors could interrogate anyone about their use of goods and require the cooperation of any citizen. Searches and seizures of private property based on very general warrants became an epidemic in colonial America.
In 1756, the Massachusetts legislature passed search and seizure laws outlawing the use of general warrants. The friction created between the Royal Governor and the people of Massachusetts grew with each passing moment.
In 1760 James Otis, a Boston lawyer, strongly objected to these arbitrary searches and seizures of private property and consequently resigned his position with the government, and then became the lawyer for a group of over 50 merchants who sued the government claiming that the writs of assistance were unjust.
James Otis represented these merchants for free. His speech condemning British policies, including writs of assistance and general search warrants, was so powerful and eloquent, that it was heard of throughout the colonies and catapulted him to a place of leadership in the swelling tide of disillusionment toward Great Britain.
Twenty-five year old John Adams, who would become the second president of the United States some time later, was sitting in the courtroom and heard Otis' famous speech that served as a spark that originated the American Revolution."
The 4th Amendment is a part of The Bill of Rights, which became law on December 15, 1791.
The 4th Amendment applies only to the federal government, but state constitutions are written similarly, and the States also have laws that are consistent with the intention of the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment provides protection from illegal search and seizure by government officials, but not by private citizens. So, if an employer unreasonably searched your possessions at work, the 4th Amendment would not have been violated.
Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562
951-699-7500, www.faitharmory.com - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.