Is the 4th Amendment Dead on the GOP Debate Stage?

“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.”
Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

August 10, 2015—During the first 2016 Republican primary debate, the candidates traded standard conservative talking points and tried to convince the packed crowed they were the most conservative candidate on stage. The one glaring exception came on the issue of national security and NSA spying, pitting big government progressive, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie against libertarian leaning Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Christie said he will blame Paul if any future terrorist attacks take place, Paul responded by saying he wanted to collect more data on terrorists by naming the terrorist and the documents to be searched just as is outlined in the Bill of Rights. Christie thought this ridiculous, that getting warrants isn’t necessary and that we should indiscriminately wiretap all American citizens. Assume they are terrorists until proven otherwise then continue to invade their privacy for the security of the nation.

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Two major problems with this. First, the multi-billion dollar meta data collection program has “had no discernible impact” per the FBI, and has caught no one. The reason for this is obvious. When you collect data on 300 million people, the overwhelming majority of whom are doing nothing wrong, it becomes impossible to focus on a few individuals and the whole program becomes self defeating. This is the same federal government that spent $100 million on a website that it couldn’t get to work on its roll out, and we expect them to successfully run a meta data collection program work that indiscriminately collects data on hundreds of millions of Americans? It’s just not possible to run an efficient program that collects data on all Americans.

Second, the president takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, the New Jersey governor admits clearly here that he thinks the constitutional process is “completely ridiculous” so he doesn’t plan on following the Constitution. If he can’t honor his oath, he should be disqualified on running for president.

The problem with Christie’s position is much deeper than just an NSA spying program. People who applaud Christie’s comments befuddle me. They too are among the masses that are going to be indiscriminately searched and have their constitutional amendments violated as well. If we want to be intellectually consistent this is “electronic stop and frisk” of all US citizens. The argument that if you’re doing nothing wrong you have nothing to hide does not hold up. It implies you would have no problem with the federal government kicking in the doors to your house, searching your belongings and recording you and your spouse in your bedroom.

No one would be ok with that. This is exactly why we have a constitution. Governor Christie is a failed, big government progressive governor from a failed big government progressive state. As president, he would plan to add more progressive policies that trashes our Constitution, violates our civil liberties and has a proven track record of making us no safer. It’s in times of uncertainty that we need to cling to our Constitution, not disregard it in favor of progressive policy and a spy state. We should all remind ourselves of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Will the 4th Amendment still be an issue in 2016? Comment below!

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