Throughout history there have been many presidents, social leaders and even Supreme Court justices that have done their duty to aid America’s growth. We have relied on the decisions, rulings and policies of such elites. Their efforts and focus have shaped our country’s vision; Abraham Lincoln ended slavery, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. educated us about hope and courage and President Bush is leading the war on terror by bringing the fight to the terrorists. There have been many and there will be many more to come, but something is itching at the surface of our courts and policies that causes me to break out in hives.
On Monday the Supreme Court decreed that even when police suspect nothing of a routine traffic stop, they are well within the law to use drug-sniffing dogs. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution 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.” If I am not mistaken, the meaning of this Amendment directly states that police would be violating the Constitution if they were to use drug-sniffing dogs as the court decision allows.
As I rested in my bed, I attempted to think of a reason why this ruling would help society. Ok, it might help stop some drug trafficking, but it certainly won’t eliminate it. I guess I am just perturbed because there are more opportune ways to stop such things. Instead of hiring Gestapo squads to walk around with dogs we should eliminate the infusion of drugs into this country altogether. Instead of harassing citizens that already fall under the protection of our constitution we should turn away all immigrants that bring these drugs into the country; this would be a far superior use of our tax monies. America is fighting the war on terror from the outside in; we should fight the war on drugs in the same manner.
On the contrary, supporters of this Supreme Court decision, such as Attorney General Lisa Madigan of Illinois, argue that these drug-sniffing dogs are “indispensable,” as she was quoted as saying in USA Today. They believe the measures will be crucial in diminishing the black-market drug trade. However, to stifle this quandary you can’t just police people when the drugs have already entered our country. I truly believe that most American citizens will do anything in their power to stop this drug trade, but who would want a police state?
The fear many have is a just fear. Scores of Americans are apprehensive about this ruling not because of what it is, but because of what it could become. It may just start as random searches during routine traffic stops — which, I might add, are already a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights — but it could ultimately end up as chaos. It may go from searching speeding cars to searching parked cars. However, it may never go that far and it might be a great thing, but the Supreme Court and the government have overstepped their bounds before, and will inevitably do so again.
Many rulings and policies have been questioned in the past. Measures such as the Patriot Act were widely criticized because they “infringed” on our constitutional rights. However, this is different. The Patriot Act prevents people from harming others; it prevents deadly material from entering planes; it listens for keywords in conversations to safeguard our national security; nevertheless, it does its best not to harm those who are innocent and unsuspecting. This new ruling is bigotry. You shouldn’t stop ordinary citizens because “they may be harmful.” I love America the beautiful, America the free, but certainly not America the police state.
Erik Raymond is a junior majoring in economics and pre-law.