TSA Searches and the 4th Amendment

“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.”
– U.S. Constitution, Amendment IV

A precipitating cause of the American Revolution was the decision of the British to institute random searches using “writs of assistance” or “general warrants.” Rather than specifying “the place to be searched” and the “persons or things to be seized,” these warrants empowered authorities dig for contraband whenever and wherever they suspected it might be present.

The random and intrusive searches engaged in by federal TSA officers comprise, in other words, the sort of behavior the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent.


How Nullification Was Used To Fight Slavery, in the Words of a Marxist Historian

From Marxist historian Eric Foner’s latest book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (p. 134): “[A]s the New York Times pointed out, by nationalizing the right to property in slaves the Dred Scott decision made the doctrine of state rights . . . [slavery’s] foe.  A number of northern states had already enacted personal liberty laws that…