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Res ipsa loquitur

June 25, 2013

I’ve often thought that citizenship should require an examination, like the one immigrants are required to pass. But if we can’t have that, at least we ought to make people running for office pass an exam on the Constitution.

From The Agitator.

When Congress Voted Down The Fourth Amendment

Earlier this month [May, 2013 – JHC], President Obama nominated North Carolina Rep. Mel Watt to head up the Federal Housing Finance Authority. Here’s a fun little nugget about Watt that has little relevance to the job he’s seeking, but has lots of relevance to the current debates over leaks, press investigations, wiretapping, and such:

Back in early 1995, the new Republican majority set out on its “limited government” agenda with a bill to chip away at the Exclusionary Rule, the policy that says evidence found in the course of an illegal search can’t be used against the suspect at trial. (Though there are some exceptions.) During the debate, Watt introduced the following amendment to the bill:

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.

That of course is the exact language of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The House killed Watt’s amendment by nearly a 3-1 margin.

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