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