Sunday, January 13, 2008

Analysis: Based on your knowledge of the 4th Amendment and other constitutional principles, does the Patriot Act violate the U.S. Constitution?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act (an extensive explanation which seems pretty accurate)

http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/highlights.htm (The US Department of Justice provides the argument in favor of the Patriot Act)

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4759727&sourceCode=gaw (an interesting debate site)

http://w2.eff.org/patriot/ (the argument against the Act)

22 comments:

KellyH said...

I do believe the Patriot Act violates the Constitution. Very simply, the main reason I feel this way is because the wire taps go against the 4th Amendment.
"[A]nd particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized". It isn't required to list all of the third parties and the common carriers specifically on the warrant under the Patriot Act. That is why it violates the Constitution.

Vlad said...

I do think that the Patriot Act violates the U.S. Constitution because it allows unauthorized searches and as the 4th amendment is posted above, it violates the amendment. Having watched the fictional HBO show The Wire(which deals with wiretapping Baltimore drug dealers) for all the seasons shown so far, I can see why authorities would want to have a faster way to surveil targets because for the wiretaps that I know of, a lot of paperwork needs to be done before the actual surveillance can begin. But to conclude, yes, I do believe that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution, but I don't really think that millions and millions of Americans will be affected by it but it is still unfair to the small amount of people who may be wiretapped for stupid reasons. While known terrorist-affiliates must be followed closely, those who are deprived of their liberties for 'hunches' must not.

MorganJ said...

When I first read this question I thought it’s a no-brainer, of course the USA Patriot Act is unconstitutional. However, after thinking more about it, I’m not so sure.

The act's "sneak and peek" concept—“searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge"—confuses me. As the law stands now, I don't think the property owner needs to be aware of a search as long as there is a search warrant (what if the owner is not at the house when the police come with a search warrant—the police still search the premise).

Does the "sneak and peek" concept include a search warrant??? If so, all is fine and dandy...if not, this act is in violation of the constitution due to the 4th amendment.

Okay, now this is a completely different idea. I do NOT believe this act violates the constitution and that is because of what the Supreme Court said in their decision in the Schenck v. United States case. This case established that the law (in this case the 1st amendment) is flexible, and circumstances dictate what can be considered constitutional and unconstitutional. Because the act was created after September 11th, the circumstances were such that this law seemed applicable. Now, in 2008, we are still technically in the "War Against Terror" or the "Iraq War" (whatever they are calling it now), the circumstances are still unstable, therefore the act is still constitutional.

I'm not sure if this has made any sense... it did in my head. I know I have two different ideas, but this act is very complex, and I feel that some statues within it are constitutional while others are not.

JamieW said...

I'm wondering if the Patriot Act is in fact constitutional when they can get away with saying they had probable cause to search. I don't necessarily think it is constitutional but unauthorized searches can in fact be explained sometimes. As read, I can see where people say it's unconsitutional, I agree. I just think that the violations the act brings may have too good of explanations.

katiekso said...

I believe that the Patriot Act does violate the 4th amendment and therefore is unconstitutional. I don't believe every search and wire tap that comes about as a result of the Patriot Act has a warrant and probable cause along with it.

CoreyA said...

To my knowledge, wasting time wire-tapping without reasonability would be rather pointless. You have a right to be protected against unreasonable searches, true. And if someone were to tap your phone without being reasonable about it, say having 'just cause', they would not be able to use it against you anyway. If it were truely unconstitutional, then anyone who had it done to them would be able to appeal it and have the decision reversed, correct? And to my knowledge, the Supreme Court would then have to dub it unconstitutional, if it truely were. Also, as far as I am aware, the Supreme Court would know far more about what is constitutional and what is not and their say would be worth far more than mine.

To answer your question, as it stands, No.

Lisa Marie said...

I think that the Patriot Act does violate the constitution.I don't think that the U.S. citizens are really affected by it because there a lot of steps to go through before they can tap into a phoneline. I think its beneficial to us in a way. I'm confused with the probable cause thing, but I dont think that they all have a probable cause, or a good one at least. Just overall I think its unconstitutional but it can be necessary

cmorgan said...

The Patriot Act is basically George W. Bushes' way of saying, the government is going to deliberately violate your rights because we believe it is in the best interest of the nation. Every aspect of the Act is unconstitutional. The hard thing to determine though is if it falls into the category of imminent danger. That's up to the courts to decide but in my opinion the Patriot Act should be in place but with a more limited range on what it allows the government to do so that the rights of the people will be violated a little less.

mente said...

I think that the USA Patriot Act blatantly violates the 4th Amendment, however, the reason that it is not deemed as such is because of the time of the passing of the legislation. In 2001, it was easy to persuade the country to believe that the policies in this act were not only necessary, but vital to maintain the safety of the people. This idea of imminent danger, as Chris talked about, is the reason that this piece of legislation is allowed. At times of war things such as whether or not a law is constitutional are not as relevant if the safety of the American people is in question.

Erica C said...

The Patriot Act violates the U.S. constitution, specifically the 4th amendment. However, because searches can be performed without a warrant, consent, or notification, the government does not have to prove that their searches are justified through imminent danger. So is the Patriot Act unconstitutional? Or is it justified due to imminent danger? If nothing must be proven or disclosed, Americans will not know the degree of freedom they have lost.

Johnny B said...

I believe that the PATRIOT Act is stretching the boundaries. Overall, I feel it is unconstitutional.

"The so-called "sneak and peek" law allowed for delayed notification of the execution of search warrants."

I believe if a search warrant is issued, the accused victim must be notified of it. It's unconstitutional to apply the warranty unless the person knows that it is being applied. Searching someone's house without telling them is wrong and unconstitutional.

shannond said...

In my opinion, yes, the Patriot Act violates the Constitution. When I was reading the Wikipedia definition, the "sneak and peek" section really stood out to me. Maybe the writers of the Patriot Act tried to make an illegal search and seizure sound less severe by giving it a childish rhyme? It still violates the 4th Amendment. Sneaking into someone's house without a warrant and peeking at thier things is just as bad as refusing to show a search warrant and then handcuffing the owner of the house. If there was a dire need to get into someone's house or listen to thier voicemails because of terriorist suspicions, I think the government could manage to get a search warrant before they did it.

BrookeS said...

This is the million dollar question that's been troubling this country since 9/11. In my opinion, yes: the Patriot Act does violate the 4th Amendment. However, as much as I dislike having "exceptions" within rules, I believe that violating certain extents of citizens' rights is acceptable in particular cases. As much as anti-Patriot Activists like to believe they do, the government does not base searches primarily upon random acts. If there is suspision involved, a search may be conducted. Since 9/11, there have been multiple instances where phone taps, and other intrusions have prevented possible threats, (for example, the bomb threats involving major U.S bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge.) Speaking for myself, I would not be as prone to take action if I found out the government tapped in on my phone conversation while looking for a suspected terrorist within the community. I would much rather have the privacy of my conversation unprotected, than have a terrorist attack occur nearby.

aly mac said...

I think that the Patriot Act does to an extent violate the 4th Amendment; however, I do think that it is necessary to ensure the safety of the majority of the American citizens. In a world threatened by terrorism, it is important to take precautions when it comes to protecting American lives. It should be our country's main responsibility to make sure safety is provided-even if this costs individual American citizens some of their freedom. Personally I would give up this miniscule amount of freedom to ensure my own safety and the safety of other Americans. In addition, I really don't feel I am losing any of my freedom because I have nothing to hide.

ericag said...

Honestly, I have no idea. I go back and forth on this question all the time. Some days I feel that it does violate the Constitution; it allows the government to pretty much just ignore the forth amendment.

But sometimes I feel like this country has gotten out of hand and we need something that is going to stop terrorism and allows this country to be more safe.

But today... it violates it. There is a purpose to our Constition and the elected officals need to be satified with that. They can't just barge in because they have the power to make new laws.

amandak said...

Yes, I think the Patriot Act violates the 4th amendment. The 4th amendment is about privacy and security in a person's property, and the Patriot Act is all about violating that privacy and security. I was reading an article about it on CNN and it seems like the searches done under the Patriot Act are slightly arbitrary and without good reason. It doesn't seem like there is much probably cause in these cases, just random and probably unfounded suspicions.

Alex the Great said...

I believe that the patriot act does violate the 4th amendment because the whole point of the 4th amendment is so that the government cant "sneak and peak". I believe that the patriot act violates the beliefs of the writers of the 4th amendment and undermines the very purpose of it.

newkirk said...

this is unconstitutional because the 4th amendment says you need a warrant to go in someones house. i wouldnt want someone looking in my house just because they said that they thought that i was doing something. they need a real reason and a warrant proves that they have it.

CarolineB said...

Well...One could argue either way. Personally, I believe that searches taking place without warrants are unconstitutional, and so is wire-tapping and all things of the sort. On the other hand, our "freedom" and "safety" from the "terrorists" could be percieved as reason enough to tap into suspicious people's converstaions....Especially with a last name that sounds like a terrorits' last name..."Mohammed" for example.

So, I can see how some Americans get suckered into believing that the Patroit act is Patriotic, but I think that it disgraces us as a nation because it is a PERFECT example of the hypocracy that the United States has. It's unconstitutional, obviously. However, fear creates more of a reaction than accurate information, so by calling it the Patriot act, and by using it to apparently keep us out of harms way, Americans are once again taken advantage of and their freedoms are infringed upon.

Run on sentences are my favorite thing.
That's my analysis.
It does violate the 4th amendment.
And it should be done away with.

Jbyko10 said...

I believe that the Patriot Act does violate the 4th Amendment. Being able to search and seize with out a warrant is totally violating the right.

If the government has enough intel, then yes, i think it is ok for the Patriot Act to be in place. But ever since 2001, anything can be "enough" for the government.

So yes, VIOLATION

Angelina said...

I definitely think that the Patriot Act violates the 4th Amendment and other constitutional principles. I believe that at the time it was put in place, it was easy to scare the American citizens. During that time many Americans were afraid that we were going to be attacked again. Personally I believe that it was supposed to be a temporary solution to help find the "bad guys." Now it just reminds me of when I leave the house, my little brother likes to go in my room and go through my stuff, to find anything that will get me into trouble and make him look like the good guy.

Anne L. said...

I thing that the Patriot Act violates the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizures. Without a warrant or probable cause, I believe that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional