Fourth Amendment Security

Purpose

Prof. Andrew Guthrie Ferguson recently created ‘Fourth Amendment Security‘ with Stephen Henderson, professor of law at the University of Oklahoma. Fourth Amendment Security is a public education project designed to encourage citizens to learn about their Fourth Amendment rights.

The idea began with a short (well, short for law reviews) article to be published in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law written to point out some of the absurdities and limitations of the current Fourth Amendment.  The article focuses on a recent case—Florida v. Jardinesthat involved a drug sniffing dog, marijuana, a door knocker, and arguments about to whom homeowners give permission (“license”) to approach their homes.  The Supreme Court decided that police with drug sniffing dogs were generally not permitted to sniff around your front door, but based this holding on the social customs of peddlers, pamphleteers, aluminum-siding salesmen, and girl scouts.

Seeing an opening for constitutional clarity (and a bit of good humor), they pounced and created the first constitutional lawn signs project.  Their argument—simply put—is that individuals can protect themselves against police intrusion by denying police officers “license” to search homes, cars, computers, and other possessions, and in the process educate themselves and their neighbors about Fourth Amendment rights.  How?  Through clear signs—or, as they have coined them, “LAWn Signs”—articulating constitutional preferences.

By placing a LAWn Sign in your front yard, you make a claim of explicit denial of license against police entering your property.  More importantly, you make a public statement about your understanding of the importance of the Fourth Amendment.

Their goal is to cover the lawns of America with statements about Fourth Amendment security.

Homeowner by homeowner, LAWn sign by LAWn sign, a small reminder of constitutional freedom will be staked in the ground.

And why stop there?  They also encourage the use of stickers, t-shirts, roof signs (for drone surveillance), and other reminders (and claims) of Fourth Amendment areas of protection.

Fundamentally, their project is about constitutional education.  Their real goal is to get more people thinking about the importance of the Fourth Amendment.  Their law review article, LAWn Signs: A Fourth Amendment for Constitutional Curmudgeons, and the educational resources provided, provide a starting point for a renewed engagement with this critical constitutional right.

They hope that you learn, think, laugh, and buy a LAWn Sign to stake a claim for Fourth Amendment security and the liberty of all Americans.