The framers of the Constitution designed the Fourth Amendment to protect individual citizens from unfettered invasions by governmental actors into their homes or on their persons. In this way, it provides the individual with a general sense of security from arbitrary governmental incursions. The old maxim that “a man's house is his castle” and is thus free from governmental snooping captures the essence of the liberty interest that the Amendment was designed to protect.
In practice, the Fourth Amendment protects this liberty interest by controlling the activity of the police. However, controlling police activity raises issues related to crime management. Because our society is concerned about the ravages of crime and the ever present threat of terrorism, crime control is an important public policy objective. To the extent that constraints on the power and authority of the police seem to hamper their ability to make our streets safe and to protect the citizenry from danger, society currently tends to favor giving the police more latitude to do what is necessary for crime prevention.
Thus there is an inherent tension in the Fourth Amendment between individual liberty and crime management. On the one hand, we want to protect the privacy interest of the individual from governmental intrusions. On the other hand, we want the police to do whatever is required to solve crime. Greater controls on the power of the police provide more privacy protection to citizens. Reduced controls on police actions provide less privacy protection to citizens. This inverse relationship between two worthwhile society objectives is the tension inherent in the Fourth Amendment and one that is observable throughout this book.
Our founding ancestors, concerned about unfettered invasions of individual privacy by the government, enacted the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not