A Government For The People? Essay, Research Paper
In 1787, the fathers of our country met at the Philadelphia Convention to ratify the document
that would soon be known as ?The Constitution of the United States of America?. This
Constitution was to be the supreme law of the land. Our Constitution was set up in order to form
a more perfect union, and to give the people under its provision certain unalienable rights.
Among the rights granted to the people are: the right to free speech, the right to keep and bear
arms, and the right of the people to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Today
I will demonstrate for you how the Constitution has become only a small stumbling block in the
Federal Government?s efforts to increase its power through the use of legal precedents.
A prime example of how the government pirouettes around the Constitution is seen in the
case of Chimel versus The Supreme Court of California. On March 27, 1969 several police
officers showed up on the petitioner?s (Chimel) doorstep to arrest him on charges of burglary.
Upon answering the doorbell the petitioner was served with an arrest warrant. Shortly after the
arrest, while still at the petitioners house, the officers asked if they could have a ?look around?.
The petitoner knew his rights, and that the officers had no search warrant, so he respectfully
denied their request. This was of no consequence to the officers. They went ahead and
unlawfully searched his three-bedroom house top to bottom, leaving no piece of personal
A few months later the petitioner?s case was plead in a California District Court. At the
petitioner?s trial the illegally seized items were used against him. He was convicted. Unhappy
with the district court?s ruling, he appealed to The California Supreme Court. Upon
consideration, the Supreme Court affirmed that the arrest was legal because the officers had
sufficient information on the suspect to constitute an arrest. The court also held that the search
was justified as incident to a valid arrest. A valid arrest?so what! The fourth amendment of
the Constitution clearly states, ?The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.?. It then
establishes the acceptable parameters for a legal search and seizure to be, ??upon probable
cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and
the person or things to be seized.?. You can?t make it any plainer than that! No search warrant,
no search. A valid arrest is incidental. This one ruling sets the stage for two huge governmental
trends that the American people do not want to see.
The first is that not only did this infringement of rights affect Chimel, but it set a legal
precedent. That means that any case that resembles Chimel?s will be decided not on the basis of
the information presented at the trial, but on the ruling of his case. So not only does this injustice
directly affect Chimel, it affects anyone who may be in his same situation for years to come.
The second, most detrimental effect this ruling has on our society, is the Federal
Government?s uncontested dismissal of a Constitutionally guaranteed right. When the
Constitution was drafted, it was done for the benefit of the people, with the idea that the people
would be the main shareholders of power. When rulings like this go uncontested, it takes the
power away from the people, and gives it to the Federal Government. If they can toss away the
fourth amendment, why not the first? Hell, why not bring back slavery? I?m sure the
government could justify that by contorting the international commerce clause that?s found in
article 1, section 8 of the Constitution. You can probably see my point by now; if they can
violate us once, why not two or three times?
The underlying principle here is that the Federal Government is abusing what little power
was enumerated to it, in an effort to expand it?s size and authority. General welfare, liberty, and
posterity are the things that America is made of. As Americans, we can?t sit idly by and watch
our rights get thrown out the bureaucratic window, as they did with Chimel. The geniuses who
wrote our Constitution did so with us, the people, in mind. If we can hold their spirit in our
hearts and interpret the Constitution the way it was meant to be interpreted, America will be a
proud and sovereign nation for centuries to come.
Constitution of The U.S.