More Essential Than Ever: The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty First Century

More Essential Than Ever: The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty First Century

by Stephen J. Schulhofer
     
 

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When the states ratified the Bill of Rights in the eighteenth century, the Fourth Amendment seemed straightforward. It requires that government respect the right of citizens to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Of course, "papers and effects" are now digital and thus more

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Overview

When the states ratified the Bill of Rights in the eighteenth century, the Fourth Amendment seemed straightforward. It requires that government respect the right of citizens to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Of course, "papers and effects" are now digital and thus more vulnerable to government spying. But the biggest threat may be our own weakening resolve to preserve our privacy.

In this potent new volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series, legal expert Stephen J. Schulhofer argues that the Fourth Amendment remains, as the title says, more essential than ever. From data-mining to airport body scans, drug testing and aggressive police patrolling on the streets, privacy is under assault as never before—and we're simply getting used to it. But the trend is threatening the pillars of democracy itself, Schulhofer maintains. "Government surveillance may not worry the average citizen who reads best-selling books, practices a widely accepted religion, and adheres to middle-of-the-road political views," he writes. But surveillance weighs on minorities, dissenters, and unorthodox thinkers, "chilling their freedom to read what they choose, to say what they think, and to associate with others who are like-minded." All of us are affected, he adds. "When unrestricted search and surveillance powers chill speech and religion, inhibit gossip and dampen creativity, they undermine politics and impoverish social life for everyone." Schulhofer offers a rich account of the history and nuances of Fourth Amendment protections, as he examines such issues as street stops, racial profiling, electronic surveillance, data aggregation, and the demands of national security. The Fourth Amendment, he reminds us, explicitly authorizes invasions of privacy—but it requires justification and accountability, requirements that reconcile public safety with liberty.

Combining a detailed knowledge of specific cases with a deep grasp of Constitutional law, More Essential than Ever offers a sophisticated and thoughtful perspective on this important debate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a gem-an astonishingly concise education in Fourth Amendment issues without shortcuts. Stephen Schulhofer's simple, clear, engaging prose, his extraordinary insight, and his great good sense make the journey enlightening as well as alarming. Well before the end, one understands why rapidly changing technology and the threat of terrorism do not justify the slackening of Fourth Amendment protections that recent decisions have approved." —Albert W. Alschuler. Julius Kreeger Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, Emeritus, The University of Chicago

"Stephen Schulhofer offers an indispensable, lucid, and much-needed defense of the Fourth Amendment, providing compelling responses to those who claim that privacy is dead, that if we have nothing to hide we have nothing to fear, and that the Fourth Amendment protects only criminals. He persuasively demonstrates that the Fourth Amendment's protection remains essential to a robust liberal democracy in the Facebook and Google era." —David Cole, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School

"Stephen Schulhofer spells out why the Fourth Amendment's protections from unwarranted government surveillance are as important as freedom of speech when it comes to liberties essential to sustain a democratic society. He makes a powerful case that too often we have permitted law enforcement powers to expand while leaving individuals with 'only the protective shields that sufficed in the eighteenth century.' He does an outstanding job debunking the widely held assumption that there is-and must be-a 'trade-off' between liberty and security. And he does so clearly, crisply and stylishly." —Yale Kamisar, Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Michigan

"...provides a compelling case-based analysis for returning to the principles and values embedded in the Bill of Rights." —Political Science Quarterly

"Stephen Schulhofer's More Essential Than Ever takes a broad approach. Written for both a lay audience and the student of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, it tackles a range of Fourth Amendment issues, from the origins of the Fourth Amendment to the challenges we face in balancing the Fourth Amendment protections against national security interests... Well written and informative." —Tulsa Law Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195392128
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/06/2012
Series:
Inalienable Rights Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Stephen J. Schulhofer is Robert B. McKay Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. His books include Rethinking the Patriot Act, The Enemy Within, and Unwanted Sex.

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