The first amendment which is freedom of the press, freedom of speech, free to assemble, freedom of religion has afforded us a liberty without government control. Throughout history opinions have changed towards the constitution depending who is on the bench. After listening to the interview between Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor and the Aspen Institute; discuss the “fourth amendment” and “privacy and technology” and Justice Richard Leon’s opinion of NSA surveillance. I saw the importance of “separation of powers”. Justice Leon struck down the NSA’s surveillance of our telephone metadata. i.e. telephone numbers that we dial. Even though the government was only collecting phone numbers and not content, Justice Leon said it violated our fourth amendment.
The fourth amendment is: 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.
The Government argued that once we dialed our numbers they are not violating the fourth amendment by taking the information. We have given away our right to privacy because we voluntarily turned over our numbers when we dialed. They further justified their right to our telephone numbers by saying information helps with terrorism. Although after a bi-partisan investigation Congress found that it did not help curb terrorism. This case reminded me when George W. Bush was in power and after 9/11 his administration were listening to international phone calls. Nowadays our phones do not only store numbers but emails, financial information, etc. If the Supreme Court allows the U.S. government to listen in on our phone calls and collect data, the invasion of privacy could then flow over into the privacy of media companies being compromised. This could lead to the censorship of Newspapers, radio shows, magazines etc. what about the safety and privacy of whistleblowers? Now this case has not reached the Supreme Court as yet. But If it does, I hope the judges will take their time deciding and take into consideration how much little control our forefathers would have wanted government to have over us.
These types of cases will be interesting to watch going forward in terms of how partisan the bench has become. Will the conservative members of the Court vote as conservatives (who want limited government control) or as Republicans supporting a strong and overreaching federal government.