Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2001
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2001 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Eric L Johnson


After reading James Kilpatrick's July 2 column regarding the U.S. Supreme 
Court's recent decision on Fourth Amendment protections, I still don't 
understand his argument against the court's finding.

The Fourth Amendment was intended to protect the sanctity of the home, 
which was clearly violated by the police department in Florence, Ore. Using 
thermal imaging equipment to seek out heat sources within the home is 
simply a more advanced means of searching the home. What used to require 
physical entry into the house can now be accomplished from across the 
street, and the technology will only improve as time passes.

The intent of the Fourth Amendment does not evolve, however. Using 
technology to conduct a search -- as opposed to entering a home -- does not 
automatically make it "reasonable." No matter what new devices become 
available to law enforcement, authorities should still be required to 
obtain a warrant in order to conduct their search.

I applaud the five justices of the court who were prudent enough to place 
the rights of citizens ahead of the immediate concerns of law enforcement. 
As technology progresses in the years ahead, we will be thankful for their 
vigilant defense of our constitutional rights.


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