Does the mass collection of phone records violate the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

Legal scholars and courts have been wrangling for more than a year over whether the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone records — a program first disclosed to the public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 — violates those protections. Some legal experts disagree over whether the record collection even qualifies as a search or seizure, and, if it does, whether collecting those records is “unreasonable” or requires a warrant.

In a recent Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, two teams of constitutional law experts faced off on the motion “Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates The Fourth Amendment.” In these Oxford-style debates, the team that sways the most people to its side by the end is the winner.

Today’s Question: Does the mass collection of phone records violate the Fourth Amendment?

  • Jamie

    Absolutely and unequivocally, it violates the spirit and the letter of the fourth amendment.

  • David P.

    I Love Big Brother.