Violations Of Americans — страница 2

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Court decided that this was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects the people against unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause. In the 1996 Whren vs. United States decision, “police officers used traffic violations as a pretext to stop a car and investigate possible drug offenses; the officers had neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to stop the driver for narcotics crimes. (Harris 544)” However, the Court sided with the government saying that, “If police witness a traffic violation, they have the simplest and clearest type of probable cause imaginable for a stop. (Harris 544)” This decision is obviously a clear violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. Our highest branch in the judicial system, the Supreme Court, the

branch responsible for making sure that the federal government cannot restrict or violate any of our civil rights, has failed us. “Under a Constitution that restrains the government and that puts some limits on what the authorities may do in the pursuit of the guilty, the power of the police to stop any particular driver at almost any time, seems oddly out of place. (Harris 556)” Ironically, with the words “equal justice under law” carved into the stone of the Supreme Court itself, one might think that the use of police power in one of its rawest forms against members of minority groups or certain age groups, might make the court show some interest in controlling such abuses. But it just shows the change in American culture of treating certain groups like criminals

instead of citizens. What can we do to protect our rights as American citizens? Even though the Supreme Court has led a change in deciding to uphold our civil rights, there are criminal and civil laws in place to protect us against excessive use of force and police brutality. There are two sections under Chapter 18 of the United States Code that are important. They provide either a fine and/or imprisonment for those that violate our civil rights. “Section 241 provides for criminal sanctions under the Federal Civil Rights Act for conspiracy to violate civil rights. Section 242 is concerned with people who act in their official capacity (i.e., judges, sheriffs, police officers) and violate the civil rights of persons. (McLaughlin 12)” Obviously there are penalties and

punishments out there to protect Americans’ civil rights. Although with the recent rash decisions of the Supreme Court and the longstanding secret police code of silence, I don’t know how much of a guarantee that we as American citizens have that protects against the violation of our civil rights by our own government.