"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."
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, quoted in full above, was written to guarantee what the Framers called "the right to be let alone," and what we have come to call "the right to privacy."
The Supreme Court has ruled consistently and repeatedly that its contemporary purposes are to prevent dragnets and fishing expeditions, lest the rights of the innocent be assaulted along with those of the guilty.
The American people know that the trade-off of liberty for safety is a ruse. It may make the job of spies easier, but it surely doesn't make us safer or more free.
In fact, when enforced, it compels all in government to show some evidence of guilt before a judge can authorize the secret or forceful seizure of private information from or about you.
In criminal prosecutions, when the government fails to follow the Fourth Amendment, the courts discard whatever evidence has been offered that is the fruit of those failures.
Thursday morning, the American people awoke to learn of the most monumental, gargantuan violation of American values in our history.
We learned, according to published reports, that the Obama Department of Justice, the same folks who improperly seized emails from Fox News and telephone conversations from the Associated Press, has nearly half of all adult Americans in its cross hairs.
We learned that the DoJ sought a search warrant for every phone call of every customer of Verizon in the United States, without showing evidence of guilt against anyone.
Verizon reports that it has 113 million customers and handles one billion telephone calls in America every day.
Since at least April 25th of this year, every one of those calls had the names of the callers and all persons on the calls, their telephone numbers, their locations, and the length of the calls identified and sent directly to the National Security Agency--America's domestic spies--on a daily and an on-going basis.
When caught red handed Thursday morning, the feds asked us to trust them when they proclaimed that they are only monitoring the calls, they are not actually listening to them.
Who would trust them?
The Constitution doesn't trust them. We have not seen as broad and wide and deep a violation of the Fourth Amendment in our history. But thanks to the Patriot Act--that's the Bush-era statute that lets federal agents write their own search warrants in blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment--the feds went to a secret court and asked and received a warrant unknown to history and unheard of in its scope to monitor the behavior of nearly half the nation; and they did so without telling us.
Who would trust them?
Everyone who works for the government has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It was written to create the federal government and to keep it off the people's backs. It is now in shambles.
Who would trust them?
President Obama, who must have approved of this, Attorney General Holder, who must have authorized it, and U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson who signed an open-ended search warrant ordering it are so blind to personal liberty in a free society that they are unworthy to hold their offices.
They have unleashed spies upon half of us, and upon our doctors, lawyers, judges, police, elected officials, generals, admirals, troops, journalists, and neighbors; they have even unleashed spies on the White House staff, the Supreme Court, and the CIA.
Enough is enough.
Today, the American people know that the trade-off of liberty for safety is a ruse. It may make the job of spies easier, but it surely doesn't make us safer or more free.
Breaking down doors in the night and arresting bad guys on a whim might make us safer, but who would want to live in such a society?
What is the value of the Constitution if the government can violate it on such an unimaginable scale, and get away with the violations?
Shortly after the Constitutional Convention completed its work in Philadelphia in 1787, legend has it that a vagrant approached Benjamin Franklin and asked him what the Convention produced. He reportedly answered "A republic, Sir, if you can keep it."
Thursday morning we learned that the Republic has been lost. It is now a dictatorship.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He joined FNC in January 1998. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.” To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.