In recent days, we’ve been subjected to two conflicting federal court opinions regarding Fourth Amendment protections. The first, which came out Dec. 16, written by Richard J. Leon, federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., stated that there isn’t one incident in 12 years that shows that the NSA’s massive, telephony metadata collection has actually borne fruit.
Two days later, on Dec. 18, a presidential review group agreed that the program was not essential for preventing attacks within the United States, and less-intrusive measures would work just as well. They also made the recommendation to discontinue the government’s bulk storage of telephone records, suggesting that private providers or a private third party should provide the storage function, surrendering access to the information only by court order.
On Dec. 27, New York Federal District Judge William H. Panley III expressed a completely opposite opinion, which was that there is no violation in the NSA’s bulk metadata collection because it does not infringe on the degree of privacy that the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. However, he did state that there was an issue concerning whether the program should even be conducted. According to Panley, that issue “is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide.”
Part of Leon’s (opposing) opinion was, “I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware of the ‘abridgment’ of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power, would be aghast.”
Does anyone think that Washington, Jefferson, Franklin or any of the rest of the Founding Fathers, if they had phones (cell or landline), computers or GPS, would not have made provisions for personal privacy in those applications, as well as any others that could be thought of? All you have to do is look at the Bill of Rights to realize that, of course, they would have included guaranteed protections in any or all instances for our personal freedom.