The Delta Proclamations IV
“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.” Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
If you have been paying attention over the past few years, you have seen the issue of privacy come up repeatedly in the media (main-stream and non-main stream). What we have not seen nearly as much of, at least not in the main-stream media, are stories about the confiscation of private property in which no criminal charges are filed or ever intended to be filed. This is known as civil-asset forfeiture. In a nutshell, if the state “suspects” that property, cash, or other assets in your possession were obtained in an illegal manner, they may confiscate it. In many of these situations, you will not be charged with a crime or face any type of criminal penalty. However, once confiscated, it is up to the you to prove that your property was obtained in a legal fashion… you know, because our system is built on guilty until proven innocent, right?
The Fourth Amendment has its roots in our history as a British Colony. At that time, we colonists had no protections against seizure of property by the Crown. Though several American laws were enacted which forbid such activity, as they were not issued by the Crown and its sovereignty, these laws were little more than symbolic gestures building up to our eventual revolution. Ultimately, the objective of the Crown, at first, was tax collection. Seizures and searches eventually turned into a method of preventing rebellion, but tax collection was their first and primary function.
Fast forward to modern day and we are protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We never have to worry about the state searching our smart-phones or other devices without a warrant or probably cause. No one ever has to worry about having records for cash they have on them when they are stopped and searched, which of course never happens without probable cause. No one has to worry about a state agent determining that, despite evidence to the contrary, you are engaged in an illegal activity and it is obvious all of your assets were obtained from this activity, so they need to be seized after ransacking your home and may or may not be returned after you have proven your innocence…right? Right?
Somehow, at some point, something went terribly wrong. The government by the people, for the people became the government by the government, for the government, at the expense and well-being of the people. Once again tax and revenue generation and control, is at the core of its activity. At some point, it became too much of an inconvenience to prove a citizen guilty. It cost too much, and the result didn’t generate anything more than pulling a criminal off the street. There must be a way to make this more beneficial for the state. Wait, the Brits had the right idea! We can just say “they got that ______ by breaking the law! Even though we didn’t catch you in the act, since we KNOW you are guilty, trial is irrelevant, we will be taking your cash and goods. Oh, and by the way, if you want it back, you will have to cover your costs and prove yourself innocent. If you push the issue and can’t prove yourself innocent, you will be paying our costs as well.” Instead of having to provide a judge with credible, probable cause for a warrant, the state has formed the FISA courts to secretly issue warrants against citizens that the state merely suspects are engaged in activity they do not approve of. Other times, they simply invade our privacy without cause or any method for the citizen to protect themselves. If the citizen tries to defend their rights, they are deemed a criminal and prosecuted for daring to question the almighty sovereign.
So, how bad is it? The Washington Post, a known left leaning organization, did a study in 2014 and found that since post 9/11/2001, there had been nearly 62,000 cash seizures (just cash, not other assets) performed with no warrant and no indictments thereafter. Between 2008 and 2014, of $2.5 BILLION in reported spending, 81% came from civil asset forfeiture seizures in which no indictment was ever filed.
The state has an insatiable appetite when it comes to feeding itself. It continues to bring in record amounts of income from taxes (taxation is theft, but that is for another day) but despite this, it does not get its fill and turns to the outright theft at gunpoint of citizen property. The state becomes more bloated and as it does, it becomes more hostile towards the rights of the citizenry who feed it. King George and the British Empire were no different. They viewed our forefathers as income providers whose purpose was to feed the empire. Subjects who resisted, whether by word of mouth or action, were eliminated. And then the line was crossed. The British decided to disarm the citizenry in Concord. But the subjects had had enough and fought back in the first battles of the American Revolution, and in 1791, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, our newly formed Government agreed it would respect and protect the God-given rights of it citizens.
And yet here we are… the state says “you used this cash to break a law or obtained it by breaking a law”, and now you have to prove to the state, who has already decided you are guilty, that you are innocent and it was indeed wrong of them to seize your property. Civil asset forfeiture is a tragic example of how supposed “gaps” in constitutional protections can be used to circumscribe or circumvent our enumerated God-given rights. It relies on the assumption that people’s property rights are not God-given and can be forfeited without due process. That assumption makes a mockery of both the protection of private property, a bedrock of our republican system, and the presumption of innocence.
So, how bad will it get? Fortunately, there are a number of people and organizations on both sides of the political spectrum that agree this behavior by the state is unacceptable and are fighting to restore the rights of the citizens. Unfortunately, there is also a bloated state that exercises unconstitutional control over those making the decisions on this subject. Even the US. Attorney General is corrupted by the allure of power over the people that violating the Fourth amendment brings. If someone in his position advocates for it, what can the rest of us do? We fought a war against the most powerful empire on earth, at the time, over this type of behavior. Father of the Fourth Amendment, James Otis said “Can there be any liberty where property is taken away without consent? One of the most essential branches of… liberty is the freedom of one’s house”.
Just because you are not directly or immediately affected by actions such as civil asset forfeiture or FISA warrants to invade your privacy does not mean you will not be as the hunger of the state increases. Remember, our Constitution and Bill of Rights were meant to instruct the state about what it specifically was allowed to do, and even more specifically, what it could not do. If the founding documents are silent, the state should be as well. Where the documents speak, they are required to listen and obey. They (the state) are supposed to work for the people. Never forget, of all the rights protected, the right to bear arms is the single right that protects all the others, especially the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and provides citizens with the ability to ensure that the state works for them. Remember, be aware, be prepared.