In my coursing about the net, I ran into a networking site post that summed up the issues as:

“…the issue is what the definition of ‘unreasonable’ is ”

Ahem. No. It isn’t.

Strangely enough, almost as if the authors had actually thought about the matter, the constitution’s fourth amendment provides a very specific definition for “reasonable”:

Probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, a description of the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized, which in turn forms the basis for issuing a warrant, and the warrant itself is the legal pivot upon which the authorization of the federal government to search, or not search, depends.

The states must follow this definition because the 14th amendment says “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Local jurisdictions in their turn must follow suit because they must comply with the laws of the state they exist within.

As can easily be understood, any argument about “reasonable searches” not being explicitly defined in the 4th amendment is entirely sophist. There it is; how much plainer could it possibly be? So with the understanding that the 4th goes into very specific detail on exactly that subject, and was written by people whose primary interest was limiting federal power, you simply cannot say that the conditions required for a reasonable search aren’t laid out in there. You also certainly can’t say that the terms for an unreasonable search are laid out in there — those aren’t unreasonable terms, they’re reasonable terms.

So, with the specific and explicit definition of what ‘reasonable” is right in hand, as given by the constitution itself, the definition of “unreasonable” is crystal clear: anything that doesn’t match those requirements. Anything.

Now, if congress wants some other definition of “reasonable” in there, then amazingly enough, there is a mechanism specifically provided for them to get that accomplished; that is article V, Amendment. There is no other way they can legitimately effect such a change.

They can, however, assert unauthorized power by simply making unconstitutional legislation, just as they have with ex post facto laws, the inversion of the commerce clause, various kinds of censorship, and an entire laundry list of other unauthorized power grabs; and in such an effort, they will continue to enjoy the support of the executive and the judiciary, because after all — they’re all part of the same system, and all benefit from accruing additional power.

Consequently, it is very important that we, as citizens, remain cognizant of the difference between the authorizations of power made by the constitution, and the naked grabs for unauthorized power made by oath-breaking members of the executive, congress, and the judiciary. What little power we have — essentially fractional measures (votes) of “throw the bums out” with regard to our own members of congress, and the executive — should be used whenever we detect such unauthorized activity.

The problem is that most people don’t bother to read the constitution, and are wholly unaware that the federal government has widely violated its constituting authority in many areas; there’s an almost impossible obstacle to overcome with regard to informing the public as to just how far outside the lines the federal government has extended itself.

Please. Go get a copy of the constitution. Read it. Read the federalist papers. Read the history of the Virginia constitution. Read everything Thomas Jefferson ever managed to get on paper, throw out the parts on slavery, and cherish the rest. Likewise, dig up Benjamin Franklin’s comments, and, after getting over what a happy pervert he was, commit the rest to memory. Then read the constitution again.

The constitution is literally the constituting authority for the US federal government. To any degree that they do not comply with this document, they are engaged in unauthorized exercise of power. Use your vote to remove anyone you catch voting for unconstitutional legislation. That’s the best thing you could possibly use a vote for. Seriously. There is no higher calling than moving this country closer to the exalted state of liberty made possible by the constitution.

Oh, and by the way — that whole laptop thing? In the vast majority of cases, they are entirely without probable cause, so there is no authority to either search one or seize one. See how easy that was to figure out? And isn’t it amazing that they figured this out over 200 years ago without the help of any modern legislator?

Vote ‘em out, friends — vote ‘em out.