23 Jan 2012 Supreme Court Rules Americans are Protected from “Surveillance State”
National Center for Public Policy Research’s Horace Cooper Praises Ruling, Which Was Based on Fourth Amendment to U.S. Constitution
Washington, D.C. – National Center Adjunct Fellow Horace Cooper is praising the U.S. Supreme Court for its recent decision upholding the Fourth Amendment and limiting the ability of any government investigator to place GPS tracking devices on any American’s automobile without getting a warrant from a judge first.
The Fourth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
“Instead of relying on some fabricated ‘right of privacy,’ the Supreme Court focused squarely on the Fourth Amendment and the U.S. Constitution. With this ruling, the Court has placed bona fide limits on the surveillance state. The vigilance the Supreme Court showed in this decision will protect every American and will do so by resting on our Founders’ understanding that government can’t get around the Constitution’s 4th amendment protections simply by using new technology to search us or our property,” Cooper explained.
“It is axiomatic that before the government can surreptitiously search a citizen or his car, they need approval from a judge. Pretending that that protection goes away when the search is carried out electronically or when tracking devices are used not only threatens the liberties of all Americans, it rejects our founders clear understanding of the limitations on the government,” Cooper concluded.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, relies on the 4th Amendment and the intent of the founders.
Scalia writes: “It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case: The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted… We hold that the Government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search.'”
Horace Cooper is an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a member of the African-American leadership group Project 21 and a legal commentator. He taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and was general counsel to U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
The National Center For Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org) is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving about one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.