As a citizen who can legally drive in the United States, I always try not to get pulled over. Getting a ticket is a true fear of mine, especially because my parents would kill me if I did. But now, I have another reason to not want to get pulled over, but is a bit more extreme of a reason. In early April, the Supreme Court affirmed a law that allows for any policeman or police force to strip search any single person even if there’s no belief that the person is carrying something illegal. This is frightening; not just to me, but to many people, and for good reason too.
Let’s pretend I’m driving my beautiful black passat one during the summer. A female, or male, cop decides to pull me over because I was ‘maybe’ didn’t fully stop at the stop sign a couple of yards back. After deciding to give me a ticket, she decides to make me get out of my car, just to ‘make sure’ I’m not carrying anything illegal. After I step out of my car, he or she tells me I must take off all of my clothes, or I will be arrested. Because of this, I am publicly humiliated in front of all the other drivers, and potentially worse, but that can be left to your imagination. As the cop pulls away, I feel like I should be able to make a case for sexual assault or harassment or something, right? No. I can’t because of the law that was passed in early April.
A month or so ago in government class, we did an activity where we used Article One of the Constitution to determine whether or not certain hypotheticals were constitutional or unconstitutional. Some of them had to do with protection rights, freedom of speech, rights of the government, etc.
This new law that was passed relates directly to what the Bill of Rights states as our rights as citizens of the U.S. In my opinion, this new law is completely unconstitutional. In the 4th Amendment it clearly states that “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.” This states that people shall not be violated in their own personal property, unless upon probably cause. The problem with this is that ‘probable cause’ is not clearly defined, thus creating a hole in the Amendment.
Again, I believe that this new law is unconstitutional. I hope that one day Congress will see that this law is truly unconstitutional and understand that this destroys citizens rights to search and seizure regulations.
Recently in Government class, we discussed and had an activity consisting of annotating an online version of “Congressional Government” by Woodrow Wilson. In Wilson’s book, he talks about how Congress has no true leader, and that having multiple leaders and speakers only creates confusion and usually a divided collection of thoughts and discussions.
By using example such as “But there is no great minister or ministry to represent the will and being of Congress in the common thought. The Speaker of the House of Representatives stands as near to leadership as anyone” and “It is this multiplicity of leaders, this many-headed leadership, which makes the organization of the House too complex to afford uninformed people and unskilled observers any easy clue to its methods of rule” (Wilson 1-2), Wilson explains that our structure of Congress is ineffective in terms of having a leader and having an obvious representative of Congress. He believes that the British government is much more effective and gets more things done because they have a true leader, the prime minister. Wilson hopes that one day the United States can find a way to make their government better and have more positive results in decision making and different situations. He also says that our government wouldn’t have such a hard time making decisions, being in a state of confusion, and being distressed as often IF we had a leader who could be a the decision maker and the put the ‘hammer’ down on what needs to happen.
I do believe what Wilson is saying has value to it. It is obvious that our Congress doesn’t have a clear-cut leader, thus making leadership roles very confusing. As an American, it would be nice to have someone be a true leader of Congress; although we do have a speaker of the house, like Wilson said, he or she doesn’t play a huge leadership role, or at least an obvious one that makes him or her stand out as the leader. Knowing that there is confusion and doubtfulness within congress doesn’t help me sleep at night, but I do know that there are people out there who are trying to better our government and the way we try and decide how we do things in our country.
I truly enjoyed learning from this activity because it allowed me to get a sense of how people felt about our Congress, especially since what Wilson was talking about still applies today. I also enjoyed annotating because it helped me get a sense of what a President of the United States had to say about our government and how it works.