When members of the National Transportation and Safety Department inspect one’s luggage at the airport one ought to seriously wonder if they are breaching the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The 4th Amendment reads: “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.”
According to this amendment American government officials must obtain a search warrant authorized by an American court upon the presentation of evidence showing probable cause and describing specifically the individuals to be searched, the place to be searched, and the property to be seized.
Every time an inspection is done, never is there a warrant issued. Some will argue that these searches are not unreasonable; that they are for the passenger’s own protection against a terrorist commandeering an airliner. However, unless the issue as to why the disaster of 9/11 occurred, real security will never be obtained. It has been since 9/11 that government inspections of personal luggage began with earnest.
The 4th Amendment does not apply to private companies such as airlines, just government officials. The reason is since an airline is a private company, it can make any rules it wishes. Through the free market, customers (airline passengers) choose to decide which airline they fly. If they feel more secure in flying an airline that inspects their luggage they may. If not, they choose an airline that does not inspect luggage prior to boarding. The point is the airline decides how it wants to operate its business and the customer chooses which business practices it likes most, not government officials.
Free enterprise is not government officials making the rules. Rather free enterprise is private individuals making the rules while government officials are prevented from forcing individuals to close their business unless they committed a crime, such as fraud, murder, and the like. When markets are controlled by government officialdom, the law must be followed. In a free market, the customer gets to decide whether a business is exercising good business practices.
Because government is force, government can and does force individuals to do any activity it requires. Private companies and individuals cannot. This is the reason for the Constitution, particularly the 4th Amendment; to restrain the power of government officials from just opening up an individual’s suitcase without a properly issued warrant. The right to security means the right to keep private one’s financial papers, books, and property, including travel records, medical records, fingerprints, photos, e-mail, phone calls, or DNA, and not have to surrender them on a whim to any government official without proper authorization. In other words it is the government official that must have proper papers, not the individual.
The 4th Amendment is based upon the old common law maxim: “Every man’s house is his castle. Even though the winds of heaven may blow through one’s home, the king (government official) cannot enter it without a warrant.” This right to security was claimed by the founders against the “writs of assistance” of general warrants that allowed government officials to engage in fishing expeditions in searching an individual’s premises to entrap him.
It is not the right of property that is being protected by the 4th Amendment. Rather it is the right to legally obtained property. Every individual possesses the three great rights, the right to one’s life, the right to one’s liberty, and the right to one’s legally obtained property. These three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give an individual his life, but deny him his liberty is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give one his liberty but take from him his property, which represents his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.
One ought to know under what authority government officials can rummage through one’s luggage or purse without a proper warrant. In a free society property is to be inviolate and government is instituted to protect the three great rights of every individual.
The purpose for which the 4th Amendment was written is to protect every individual from the use of force upon him by his government officials when those government officials need information. Government officials are servants in a free society, not rulers.