Is our need for safety infringing on constitutional rights? On a day of celebration for freedom, Americans still have basic freedoms unknowingly violated.
This July 4, 21-year-old Chris Kalbaugh released a viral video that garnered nearly 2.8 million views when he was subject to a standard DUI checkpoint in Tennessee.
Though I would normally not condone provocative behavior towards officials to make a point, the point was made loud and clear. In a calm and collected voice, Kalbaugh approached the officer with his window about 1/4th of the way open, enough so that he and the officer could clearly hear each other. When Deputy A.J. Ross walks over and asks Kalbaugh to roll it down further, Kalbaugh respectfully says that he thinks it's fine since they can hear each other — which, legally, should be fine.
With the challenge to his authority, Ross firmly asks for Kalbaugh's age. In response, Kalbaugh asks if that is even a relevant question. It's crucial to note here that you as an American have the right to not answer any questions. You simply need to stop at the checkpoint and, barring any obvious violations or charges, you should be able to drive off on your merry way. However, as expected, Kalbaugh is asked to pull over. He asks if he is being detained. In a heated tone, Ross clearly ignores the question and more violently demands Kalbaugh to pull over his car once again.
The video starts to show the morally grey areas that surround the power of authority, including not being told if you are being detained, being held on the side of the street under no suspicion, and to not be mirandized even though the police have now restricted your action and freedoms like a criminal.
Following this, Kalbaugh's car is surrounded by police, so complies with their demands and pulls over. Even though he does not give his consent to search his car, his 4th Amendment right against warrantless search and seizure is broken when the police seem to lead a drug sniffing dog to falsely alert them to illicit drugs in the car. This warrants the police to manufacture reasonable suspicion and eventually search the vehicle.
On the day the entire country celebrated freedom, Chris Kalbaugh would lament the violation of his own. Yet, this isn't an entirely new phenomena. In 1986, the Supreme Court faced these same questions within the rights of the 4th Amendment in the case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz. Before the first DUI checkpoint roadblocks were even in effect, Rick Sitz, a licensed Michigan driver, challenged the checkpoints and sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
In a 6-to-3 decision, the Supreme Court held that "the weight bearing on the other scale--the measure of the intrusion on motorists stopped briefly at sobriety checkpoints-is slight." Thus, because of the effectiveness of the checkpoint program, the rights of the 4th amendment could be bent.
According to the nation’s watchdog, security overrules privacy.
While both security and privacy are undoubtedly crucial to the function of this country, based on the events in Kalbaugh's viral video and the response of the Supreme Court to similar events, it's no doubt fair game to call the authorities here perverse.