The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft

The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft

The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft

The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft


"What is the best way to balance the competing interests of national security and individual liberty in our post-9/11 world? To answer that question, Samuel Dash examines the factors that led to the Fourth Amendment's protection of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures. Covering almost eight hundred years of history, he begins with King John of England and the Magna Carta, then moves to early America as colonists resisted searches mandated under King George III. These tensions eventually contributed to the birth of the United States and the adoption of the Bill of Rights with its essential Fourth Amendment. The story of the next two centuries is how effective that protection has been as the U. S. developed "from sea to shining sea." Dash explores the struggle for privacy rights by relating dramatic legal battles throughout our history, including landmark Supreme Court cases. He reveals the sometimes humorous experiences of the people involved, such as the unlucky gambler with a shoplifting wife and the police lieutenant turned king of the bootleggers. It becomes clear that to some extent, judicial safeguarding of Fourth Amendment protections depended on which justices made up the majority of the Court at any given time. By 2001, a conservative majority of the Court had given law enforcement agents greater search and seizure authority than ever before. Dash challenges the legal justification of the Bush Administration's grab for extensive search, seizure, and wiretap powers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He reminds us of government abuses in prior emergencies in American history, and concludes that the best security is dedication to our belief in individual liberty and the enforcement of our Bill of Rights." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


The poorest man may, in his cottage, bid defiance to all the forces of the
Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may
enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England may not enter; all his force dare not
cross the threshold of the ruined tenement

William Pitt, in the House of Commons, 1766

A little more than two hundred years after Pitt made this remarkable declaration in Parliament, the force of a U.S. president unlawfully broke into the homes and offices of private citizens, searched for and seized their private papers, and wiretapped and bugged their private conversations. By then, the country was approaching the two hundredth anniversary of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which proclaims, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.”

Richard Nixon’s violations of the Fourth Amendment and his betrayal of public trust in his obstructions of justice to cover up his crimes are branded for all times under the label of “Watergate.” They so shocked the people of the United States that millions of them responded in written protests of outrage to the White House and to Congress. That protest and the articles of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee led to the unprecedented resignation of the president.

When the Senate Watergate Committee held televised public hearings on the Watergate scandal in the summer of 1973, John Ehrlichman, second . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.