Tag: Castle Laws

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.