The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution, so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.
Lurking beyond the sensationalistic and controversial aspects of the Silk Road site is something far more dangerous than any website could ever be: government abuse of our rights. The Framers knew all about this. They fought a bloody revolution over it. And when it came time to write the Constitution, they went to great lengths to protect those accused of crimes. In fact, they wrote four of the first eight amendments in the Bill of Rights to that end. They called our rights inalienable, meaning they can’t be taken away by anyone, not even an FBI agent or federal prosecutor.
Fast forward to 2014. Not much has fundamentally changed in two plus centuries. Defending liberty against government abuse and expansion is still an ongoing fight. In fact, some of the warrants used in the Silk Road case are the type of reviled general warrants that sparked the American Revolution.
Violations of the Constitution are enumerated in the recent pre-trial motions to dismiss the Silk Road case. As in every case, the defendant and allegations are secondary to this issue. That’s why the Framers wrote the law in favor of the accused, ruling that it is preferable to release even a guilty person rather than violate our fundamental rights in an effort to convict.
A major focus of the motions is the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and seizures and requires a warrant based on probable cause, with specific descriptions of what is to be seized and where . Some say this is not important, simply a technicality. Just steer clear of illegal activity and you’ll be fine. This is like saying if you have nothing to hide it’s ok for the government to spy on you. However, unlike the Framers, these arguments assume the government will not abuse and expand its power. That it won’t throw someone in jail for political reasons. Or, as in recent cases, for improper paperwork, collecting rainwater, growing vegetables in one’s own yard or holding home Bible studies. People are now routinely arrested for breaking laws they don’t even know exist. This is easy to do, since the number of criminal offenses is now so vast that nobody knows what it actually is!
Without our Constitutional protections, what stands between us and an overreaching government? From having government agents invade your home and haul you off to jail? Our Framers knew the answer: nothing. And whether the accused is innocent or guilty is secondary to the essential upholding of these sacred, inalienable rights.