Another Assualt On The Fourth Amendment

Last month we discussed Castle Laws, the concept that a man’s home is is castle, sacrosanct, and protected both from private citizens and government agencies. The sanctity of “The Home” is mentioned both in the Third and Fourth Amendments to The Constitution. In The Third, it prohibits the quartering of troops in peace time, and The Fourth Amendment specifically mentions houses as a place where person have a right “to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures”. And along with the protections against unreasonable search comes the concept of the expectation of privacy:

In United States constitutional law the expectation of privacy is a legal test which is crucial in defining the scope of the applicability of the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is related to, but is not the same thing as a right of privacy, a much broader concept which is found in many legal systems (see privacy law).

There are two types of expectations of privacy:

A subjective expectation of privacy is an opinion of a person that a certain location or situation is private. These obviously vary greatly from person to person.
An objective, legitimate or reasonable expectation of privacy is an expectation of privacy generally recognized by society.

There is the primer. The city council of City Falls, Iowa has passed Ordinance #2740
which forces business owners and owners of certain rental properties to provide keys to their businesses (rentals) to the city council in the form of universal lock boxes, so that they (or their agents) can enter whenever they like:

A few things I find curious, like how easily these council members hide behind “The right to protect it’s citizens” irrespective of the obvious Constitutional conflicts it provides, how the most seemingly innocuous occurrence like a fire when no one is home is ample excuse to give them total access to your castle, and how irregardless of the apparent conflicts, a judge in the court room is only (and final) arbiter of whether this is right.

The video mentioned that today, 7pm local time, the council would have another vote on the matter. As I type this, that meeting started 4 hours ago, hopefully I can find something on the outcome later but given that it flew through the first time 6-1, some stiff head winds will be required to derail it.

A few of the those speaking out against this proposal made some good points. Protecting the folks does not mean that it is their job to remove all risks, impractical and impossible. And the point the gentleman made about the purpose of The Constitution, for the people to restrain the government-not the other way around, is paramount in this discussion.

The other thing they glossed over was liability. In this new age of austerity, where cities have to be run on a shoe string, to expose themselves in this way, making them by virtue of them having the keys to the castle liable for any and all ill that might befall the owners or residences, I don’t get it.

I’ve said it before, although government has a legitimate purpose in our lives and the full backing and will of the people by virtue of their democratic assent, this in no way means that we do not watch them or trust them with that faith. Abuses, whether intentional of otherwise happen all the time. An ever watchful and diligent populace stands between democracy and totalitarianism. This is no time for the people to get all wobbly. From the DOI:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

And the people are the only judge of when it becomes destructive of these ends.

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  1. InsipiD

    like how easily these council members hide behind “The right to protect it’s citizens”

    If that’s really how they worded it, they’re idiots. If the city attorney had any idea that they would word it this way, he’s an even bigger idiot for allowing that.


    My least favorite non-word. The word is “regardless.”

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  2. sahrab

    I’m interested in how this plays out for a different reason. The Supreme Court has already stated in Castle Rock v. Gonzales that sheeple do not have a constitutional right to police protection, even in the presence of a restraining order.

    My question is how does this (Ohio case) Jibe with the Gonzales case? Both cases are about the Governments expectation for the Public Welfare tt would seem the two are at odds with each other.

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  3. richtaylor365 *

    If that’s really how they worded it,

    You can get the exact quote from the councilman at the 1:25 mark of the video.

    My least favorite non-word.


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  4. richtaylor365 *

    Not sure I get the similarities of the two, your case involves the right to sue the city and police for failing to act (failing to enforce a restraining order)but the above post has to do with our Fourth Amendment protections, the sanctity of The Castle Doctrine, and does folks have the right to be same and secure in their homes from unwarranted government intrusion. For my own self, I see this as a huge example of dangerous overreach.

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  5. InsipiD

    By using the word “rights” in reference to what the city is doing especially at the obvious cost of actual rights to private individuals and entities, they’re just about guaranteeing they’ll end up in court. They better lose, too. It’s an obvious unconstitutional overreach of actually defined rights. The reason I commented in my barely-awake stupor is that using the word “rights” in this context so completely rubbed me the wrong way that I couldn’t leave it alone. It brought out the full grammar Nazi in me, so sorry about the irregardless comment (but it still isn’t a word).

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  6. richtaylor365 *

    I guess that is why we have the judicial process but the frustrating thing for me is that some things are so blatantly abusive that it defies logic to pursue such an action. I bet if you asked any one of these councilmen if they have in the past given house keys to all their neighbors, for their own safety of course in case there was a fire, and they would all look at you and ask if you were nuts. Yet, give them a position of authority (without possessing the good sense to understand its limitations) and this is what you get.

    It brought out the full grammar Nazi in me

    No worries, PRIYF :)

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  7. sahrab

    Its not that far of a stretch.

    Both cases deal with the Government and safety. One says the Government has the right to protect the sheeple, the other states the sheeple can not expect the Government to protect them.

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  8. richtaylor365 *

    Not that unusual I would think, you obviously trust them, would you give them the keys if you did not trust them? How would you feel if you were told to give them your keys against your wishes?

    Choice is a wonderful thing, it gives me the power to decide, take that away and I have no power. When I willingly give someone money I am charitable, when taken from me against my will I am the victim of theft, big difference.

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