Columnist Leonard Pitts reflects on the current disregard of the Fourth Amendment and points to the recent unsuccessful attempt to sue the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency for unlawfully detaining a train passenger and confiscating his laptop. Pitts lists multiple areas where the Fourth Amendment is no longer enforced as a protection against warrantless government search and seizures, including the case of Pascal Abidor, who was represented by the ACLU and a number of other groups. A graduate student in Canada who holds dual U.S. and French citizenship, Abidor was pulled off a train at the Canadian border in 2010, cuffed, held for several hours and had his laptop confiscated for 11 days. Last month, Judge Edward Korman dismissed Abidor’s case, claiming that he, and his co-plaintiffs, had no standing because such searches are so rare travelers are not likely to be similarly victimized. Pitts’ list of other areas where the Fourth Amendment no longer has teeth includes:
Fourth Amendment not available to black and Hispanic men walking in New York, who may be stopped and frisked for no discernible reason. Fourth Amendment does not cover black or Hispanic men driving anywhere as they may be stopped on any pretext of traffic violation and searched for drugs. Fourth Amendment does not protect library patrons as the Patriot Act allows the FBI to search your library records without your knowledge. Fourth Amendment does not apply to anyone using a telephone, the Internet or email as these communications may be searched by the NSA at any time.