Boyd vs. US: the decline of the 4th and 5th Amendments and rise of the modern corporate police state in America
In the 1886 Supreme Court case, Boyd vs. US, The Supreme Court ruled that compelling a person to provide papers and evidence against himself was both an unreasonable search and seizure and an unconstitutional act of self incrimination, in violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution. The court majority, at the time, stated:
“Both amendments relate to the personal security of the citizen. They nearly run into, and mutually throw light upon, each other. When the thing forbidden in the Fifth Amendment, namely, compelling a man to be a witness against himself, is the object of a search and seizure of his private papers, it is an “unreasonable search and seizure” within the Fourth Amendment”
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The Constitutional protections afforded individuals as a result of the Boyd ruling against being compelled to provide evidence against oneself were gradually eroded by subsequent waves of court rulings which include: Fisher v. United States in 1976, Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43 (1906), Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967); Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41 (1967)
The Boyd ruling reflected a strong sentiment at the time toward limiting the power of the State and protecting the liberty and privacy of US citizens. This ruling was in response to abuses by the British prior to 1776 – abuses such as the use of ‘general warrants’ to search colonists’ homes and seize their property (http://www.answers.com/topic/the-writ-of-assistance-1762).
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Alas, since the Boyd ruling there has been a complete loss of the right to not be compelled to provide evidence against oneself. The evisceration of 4th and 5th Amendment rights have been part of a culture of mass incarceration resulting in the world’s highest rate of internment; all part of what can be characterized as the modern corporate police state.
The loss of protections granted by the 4th and 5th Amendments has been so gradual that the general public is oblivious to what has been lost and passively tolerates GPS surveillance, providing cell phone records and computer hard drives, the forceful the taking of DNA, urine and blood. Several states have even passed statutes requiring unemployment recipients to provide urine samples for drug testing, a clear violation of the 4th Amendment.
In the case of Fox News Bureau Chief, James Rosen, the Department of Justice concocted criminal conspiracy charges to justify breaking into his e-mail account in what was clearly an unlawful search under the 4th Amendment.
In contrast to the Boyd ruling’s protections against any citizen being compelled to provide self-incriminating evidence, the modern corporate police state has gone so far as to codify it as crime to fail to provide such evidence, making the destruction of such evidence a felony (obstruction of justice) subject to prolonged incarceration.
The contemporary Supreme Court has played a key role in the creation and evolution of the modern corporate police state through rulings which grant absolute immunity for prosecutors, immunity from civil suits for police who lie to grand juries, and the right to strip search individuals charged with traffic infractions and other minor offenses.
The Boyd ruling, which protected Americans against being compelled to produce evidence against themselves, represented the best of core conservative principles and values, as the ruling sought to limit the power of government and protect the liberty and privacy of individuals. But we no longer have liberal or conservative principles – we have a modern police run corporate state.
The fact that allegedly conservative politicians continually undermine the 4th and 5th amendments reveals vapid authoritarian tendencies and illustrate that their so-called traditionalist values are little more than a cover for the reality that they are little more than shills for big corporate business.
From indefinite detention, to HR 347, corporate-Democrats have behaved no differently than their Republican counterparts, demonstrating there is little practical difference between the two corporate parties.
We even have a President, a former Constitutional law professor, who unilaterally establishes terrorism watch lists, citizen kill lists, authorizes drone strikes, supports indefinite detention of citizens, and personally decides where the balance between freedom of the press, privacy and national security lies.
A State which prizes the prosecution of individuals above all else, where the populace is under constant surveillance and threat of criminal prosecution from a myriad of vague legal statutes, is not a free society and hardly a democracy. Simply ask Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, Steven Kim, James Rosen Aaron Swarz and Andrew “Weev” Aurenheimer if you wish more clarity.
Weev was prosecuted and sentenced to 41 months in federal prison under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act for accessing public information on an AT&T server and sending it to Gawker. After tweeting from prison, he was placed in ‘administrative detention’ (solitary confinement) to muzzle his speech and to serve as an important lesson and reminder for those who might wish to express theirs (http://gawker.com/ipad-hacker-andrew-weev-auernheimer-trolls-from-priso-509057520).
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