Burglars With Badges

The Return of 'Black Bag Jobs'

The Committee of Correspondence spread the word of these infuriating abuses of privacy throughout the colonies, as in this report from Boston:

"Our houses and even our bed chambers are exposed to be ransacked, our boxes, chests, and trunks broke open, ravaged, and plundered. . . . Flagrant instances of the wanton exercise of this power have frequently happened. . . . By this we are cut off from that domestic security which renders the lives of the most unhappy in some measure agreeable."

In 1761, James Otis challenged a new writ of assistance in the Massachusetts Superior Court: "A man's house is his castle. . . . This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege." It was declared legal, and the Declaration of Independence was a result.

And that's why we have a Fourth Amendment, to prevent such abuses from happening ever again. Or rather, we had a Fourth Amendment.

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