The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution
"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."
Despite triple-digit temperatures in the Central Valley of California, twenty-five members of Peace Fresno and Peace Madera joined nationwide demonstrations for an hour this morning to "Restore the Fourth." Groups were stationed at the four corners of a busy Madera intersection about fifteen miles north of Fresno. They held these and other signs:
A sign first used in a 2006 demonstration:
For details about demonstrations elsewhere, see this diary by Bleuz00m: This July 4th, Restore The 4th Amendment. A rally in San Francisco today is described in Restore the Fourth protesters stage rallies against NSA surveillance, subtitled "San Francisco protest targets Senator Dianne Feinstein as part of demands for reform of Patriot Act across the US."
More information about the Fourth Amendment, its roots in English law, and its many interpretations by different U.S. courts can be found here.
Professor Juan Cole wrote yesterday in How Unreasonable Searches of Private Documents Caused the American Revolution:
We need a privacy law in the United States that would settle these issues for electronic papers and reinforce the plain language of the Fourth Amendment, which is by now almost a dead letter.Cole points out that one reason for the NSA snooping is the fear of terrorism, but he notes:
there have only been 100 terrorist plots on US soil since 2008 and the NSA only claims to have disrupted 10 of them through electronic surveillance. There have in those 5 years been 25,000 terrorist attacks worldwide, of which the NSA claims to have foiled 50 through electronic surveillance. So they are not actually so effective that we should be eager just to abrogate a whole amendment to the Constitution over it. And, moreover, there were 70,000 violent fatalities in the United States during this period since 2008, and 20 of those were owing to terrorism.