2017 Scholarship Winner: 2nd Place – Jaszlyn Scurlock
Jaszlyn Scurlock: Desoto Central High School – $500.00 – Jaszlyn has plans to attend Northwest Mississippi Community College to prepare her for a career as a radiology technician or a nurse.
The Fourth Amendment: What Difference Does It Make in America?
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from being searched without a good reason. If the government wants to look through someone’s home or take someone’s property, the officer must first get a warrant. A judge will only issue a warrant when they have evidence that the person has done or is planning to do something illegal. The Fourth Amendment, along with the rest of the Constitution, has helped American citizens maintain their freedom.
The Fourth Amendment was added to the Bill of Rights to protect citizens from corrupt government leaders. When America was a colony, tax collectors would search colonists’ homes for illegal items because judges issued what was known as general warrants. The tax collectors did not even need a good reason to search someone’s home. As technology has developed, the Fourth Amendment has laid a foundation to help protect privacy in today’s digital age.
One way the Fourth Amendment has impacted modern life is how it applies to the search and seizure of cars. In a traffic stop, a police officer cannot search a car without probable cause. Recently, the news has been full of stories about conflicts between police officers and citizens. However, more people would not trust police officers if they feared being searched every time they were stopped. Also, if police officers had this much power, they could use it to benefit personally.
When people think about their rights and social media, they usually think of the First Amendment, which protects free speech. However, the government has subpoenaed customers’ usage records to use in court cases. Also, gag orders forbid companies from alerting their customers when courts access their records. Recently, Microsoft refused to give their customers’ records to the government when they have been subpoenaed. Microsoft officials stated that the government would be searching customers’ belongings without due process. Although the courts did not agree with Microsoft’s Fourth Amendment argument, they did agree that this violates Constitutional rights. As more of these cases are brought before the courts, it is possible that the Fourth Amendment will help form laws that protect our digital privacy as well.
Knowing our rights and speaking out when they are violated are important to maintaining our democracy. The Founding Fathers did not like having their rights violated by the British, and they had the wisdom to create a Constitution that would put people’s rights first. Their wisdom has influenced modern laws that protect us today.