In times gone by there was a King named John in England. King Johnny abused his power as king – and the way history remembers it, this fell heavily on the barons underneath him. He would extort them for money, and he would throw them in jail as a power move without a just reason.
Well, some of the barons got together and rebelled, and by banding together, they were able to force (King) John to agree to use due process to get kingly money, and to use due process to arrest a baron. This came to be called “The Magna Carta”.
This “right” – that the system would treat someone fairly – only applied to the barons. King John’s men could still knock YOUR house down on a whim.
BUT, importantly – a LIMIT was nogotiated on the “authority” of the “king” and the “rights” of “people” increased – and that created the potential for the idea to expand. You have to start somewhere.
It wasn’t a complete slam dunk – for years and years successive kings and barons argued about it, with the king being the one who wanted to throw out the precedent, and the barons being the ones who wanted to solidify it. But over time the concept of due process became more and more embedded in English law and assumptions for a larger and larger percentage of the population. At least for the English, in England.
Five hundred fifty years later, the English weren’t giving their colonists in America the same right to due process as the “proper” English had in England by that time. If you jokingly half-hinted the English colonial Governor shared characteristics with a toad after too many drinks at the tavern, you might end up in jail for a while with no real recourse – even for smaller offenses you could end up “losing your liberty”. Tough break, chap – obey and pledge undying loyalty to your English overseers next time, they know what’s best for you.
Americans who knew the “traditions and history of English freedom” at that time wanted freedom for themselves – AND, they were willing to extend it to EVERYONE. Here’s a novel idea – by being ALIVE, you are entitled to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure of your stuff, and you are entitled to a thorough and fair process before your freedom gets taken away. It’s just basic fairness – don’t take away the freedom of ANY man or woman without a good reason. Duh.
It took a little bit of back and forth, but eventually this idea that Americans could GIVE THEMSELVES freedom if they set up an effective government, albeit REALLY of the people, by the people, and for the people, unlike the halfway free version of the feckless Brits at the time… this “real freedom” idea became a CORE motivation for Americans to slog through a war against a military power that had many, many, many times the strength and resources. And America for a long time was very proud of its role as David against the British Goliath, in the name of fairness and freedom.
And after a little bit more wrangling, this idea ended up as the Fourth Amendment to the United States 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.1789
And throughout the rest of the history of America until now, the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution has been the cornerstone of freedom, to the degree we’ve applied it, fairly or not. And to varying degrees, this idea has spread through the rest of the world, starting with the American example. And if you look at what it means NOT to be free, then look at what life looks like without this idea as a cornerstone of law and the limit on government authority. Without this, you are more likely to be the king’s puppet, and less completely in control of steering your ship of life. It sucks for you if you live in THOSE places that don’t place similar emphasis on how freedom looks in real life.
Freedom isn’t the ONLY benefit of the American way, but it has been one of the big ones – and for many many years there was a fairly substantial agreement by people on both sides of our political aisle that whatever we disagreed about, we all mostly agreed to agree on this, and acted accordingly.
On Friday April 25th 2019, a three judge panel of the United States Fourth Circuit Court ruled against eight men who sued the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Here is what happened – ICE was looking for two men who were not here legally – and in the process of looking for them they arrested eight OTHER men they weren’t officially looking for. The eight men sued that they were denied the due process promised by the U.S. Constitution.
I’ll simplify this for ease of explaining – the Court ruled that because seven of the men were not U.S. citizens, they were not afforded the protection of the U.S. Constitution in the U.S. of A. (Which is pretty much the same logic the English used to deny the “Americans” freedom before we GAVE IT TO OURSELVES, by the way.) Well, what about that eighth guy, who WAS a U.S. citizen? Shouldn’t he have the right of due process? NO, said the court – you see, Immigration and Customs Enforcement shouldn’t need to follow the fourth Amendment, EVEN FOR CITIZENS, because it MOSTLY deals with non-citizens, and therefore can’t be expected to know or follow the rules for citizens when they suck up a “proper” American or three in their dragnet.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.Martin Niemöller, Lutheran Pastor imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for opposing Adolf Hitler and Nazism
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
(But WHAT ABOUT the horde of aliens invading our
Deutschland homeland? And what about their assault on our values and ways of life? — On a day that is in the news, let’s go there. OR, find me a patron who’ll fund me and a research assistant full time, and I’ll talk about it tomorrow.)
Breaking down a wiggly world.