In 1787, the fathers of our country met at the Philadelphia Convention to ratify the document that would soon be known as The Constitution of the United States of America.. This Constitution was to be the supreme law of the land. Our Constitution was set up in order to form a more perfect union, and to give the people under its provision certain unalienable rights. Among the rights granted to the people are: the right to free speech, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right of the people to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Today I will demonstrate for you how the Constitution has become only a small stumbling block in the Federal Governments efforts to increase its power through the use of legal precedents. A prime example of how the government pirouettes around the Constitution is seen in the case of Chimel versus The Supreme Court of California. On March 27, 1969 several police officers showed up on the petitioners (Chimel) doorstep to arrest him on charges of burglary. Upon answering the doorbell the petitioner was served with an arrest warrant.
Shortly after the rrest, while still at the petitioners house, the officers asked if they could have a look around.. The petitoner knew his rights, and that the officers had no search warrant, so he respectfully denied their request. This was of no consequence to the officers. They went ahead and unlawfully searched his three-bedroom house top to bottom, leaving no piece of personal property unturned. A few months later the petitioners case was plead in a California District Court. At the petitioners trial the illegally seized items were used against him.
He was convicted. Unhappy with the district courts ruling, he appealed to The California Supreme Court. Upon consideration, the Supreme Court affirmed that the arrest was legal because the officers had sufficient information on the suspect to constitute an arrest. The court also held that the search was justified as incident to a valid arrest. A valid arrestso what! The fourth amendment of the Constitution clearly states, The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…
It then establishes the acceptable parameters for a legal search and seizure to be, upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized… You cant make it any plainer than that! No search warrant, no search. A valid arrest is incidental. This one ruling sets the stage for two huge governmental trends that the American people do not want to see. The first is that not only did this infringement of rights affect Chimel, but it set a legal precedent.
That means that any case that resembles Chimels will be decided not on the basis of the information presented at the trial, but on the ruling of his case. So not only does this injustice directly affect Chimel, it affects anyone who may be in his same situation for years to come. The second, most detrimental effect this ruling has on our society, is the Federal Governments uncontested dismissal of a Constitutionally guaranteed right. When the Constitution was drafted, it was done for the benefit of the people, with the idea that the people would be the main shareholders of power.
When rulings like this go uncontested, it takes the power away from the people, and gives it to the Federal Government. If they can toss away the fourth amendment, why not the first Hell, why not bring back slavery Im sure the government could justify that by contorting the international commerce clause thats found in article 1, section 8 of the Constitution. You can probably see my point by now; if they can violate us once, why not two or three times The underlying principle here is that the Federal Government is abusing what little power as enumerated to it, in an effort to expand its size and authority.
General welfare, liberty, and posterity are the things that America is made of. As Americans, we cant sit idly by and watch our rights get thrown out the bureaucratic window, as they did with Chimel. The geniuses who wrote our Constitution did so with us, the people, in mind. If we can hold their spirit in our hearts and interpret the Constitution the way it was meant to be interpreted, America will be a proud and sovereign nation for centuries to come.