Judge Napolitano and the Poisonous Tree

Judge Andrew Napolitano explains what the poisonous tree is in relationship to the Forth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.  It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law. Well, here comes the Judge to explain how FISA, the NSA and the FBI are violating the “poison” protection that we have.

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As Written By Judge Andrew Napolitano at Townhall:

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree:

Would all of our lives be safer if the government could break down all the doors it wishes, listen to all the conversations it could find and read whatever emails and text messages it could acquire? Perhaps. But who would want to live in such a society? To prevent that from happening here, the Framers ratified the Fourth Amendment, which is the linchpin of privacy and was famously called by Justice Louis Brandeis “the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” He wrote those words in his dissent in the first wiretapping case to reach the Supreme Court, Olmstead v. United States, in 1928.

Roy Olmstead had been convicted for bootlegging on the basis of words he used in overheard telephone conversations. Because he had used a phone at his place of work that the government had tapped without breaking and entering his workplace, the high court ruled — despite the fact that the government had not obtained a warrant — that he had no right to privacy. Brandeis dissented.

Over time, the Brandeis dissent became the law. The Fourth Amendment, which protects the privacy of all in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” was interpreted to cover telephone conversations and eventually emails and text messages. So today, if the government wants information contained in those communications, it needs to obtain a search warrant, which the Fourth Amendment states can only be given by a judge — and only upon a showing of probable cause of evidence of a crime contained in the communications it seeks.

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