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.I have to wonder what Paul Revere, who alerted the citizens of the northwestern suburbs that the Regulars were coming out, or John Kennedy, who stared down the Soviets, would make of heavily-armed men riding a personnel carrier Russian-style through the streets of Watertown.
Although the mainstream press, and the official line out of Boston, is that law enforcement did its job correctly and the Public is With the First Responders, a dissenting view of what the Germans call a Großfahndung has come out of the Cradle of Democracy.
The scenes look like something out of a disaster movie, with the backdrop of suburban America juxtaposed with what is essentially martial law playing out in full daylight.Richard Epstein notes a contested legal principle where a bright-line, or per se, rule on warrantless searches might be desirable.
The story floated in the mainstream media that the door to door searches were conducted with the voluntary consent of the residents of Watertown is clearly false. 9000+ Police locked down an entire city and went in with full force, with armored vehicles and combat gear, all to search for an injured 19 year old kid who turned out to be cowering in someone’s back yard.
While armies of police roamed around people’s homes and private property, Public transportation was shut down, businesses were forced to close, and a no-fly zone was enacted over Boston in an unprecedented show of force.
At this point, as military helicopters buzzed over neighborhoods, the Fourth Amendment had ceased to exist in Boston, which quickly resembled a war zone.
The compliant mainstream media reported on the activity without alarm or question.
Matters of criminal procedure were not much in evidence in the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Nary a peep of protest was raised against the massive lock-down and manhunt that followed hard on the heels of that senseless tragedy.There have been plenty of peeps of protest, and it's important to give one such peep the last word.
But now that some degree of normalcy has returned, it is important to think about these procedural issues.
We've been surrendering liberty in the hope of keeping ourselves safe for the past decade. The marathon bombings will hasten our surrender of freedom from the watchful eye of law enforcement. The Boston Globe is already clamoring for additional surveillance cameras, which are sure to be installed to the applause of a great many Bostonians. You can rationalize increased surveillance as a necessary or reasonable intrusion on liberty, but you can't deny its intrusiveness, or inevitable abuses.Simpler question: despite all the heightened security, do you feel safer now than you did ten years ago?