THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE THE CONSTITUTION, THE FOUNDING FATHERS, WERE NOT TIME TRAVELERS. HOW HAS THE CONSTITUTION CHANGED TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION?
Mr. Johnson is preparing to teach one of his favorite lessons, the Fourth to the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth Amendment protects each American citizen’s right to privacy. Because of the protections granted by the Fourth Amendment, the government has to take very specific steps in order to legally search a person’s clothes, home, car, handbag, or possessions, like wallets or smartphones. Mr. Johnson’s students are always interested in hearing ways that the law protects them, especially when it comes to their privacy. He begins his lesson by reminding his students, “the Founding Fathers may have been thoughtful about the future, but they were NOT time travelers. They could never have predicted how smartphones and other technology would revolutionize the world, or how these tools could be used in ways that can put people or countries at risk.”
Mr. Johnson reminds his students that the Fourth Amendment was considered an important protection by the people who wrote the Constitution, but it was ratified in 1791, the age of muskets and horse-drawn carriages. Everything is more modern now, including communications and technology. Does the Fourth Amendment, or really, any Amendment, still apply to our modern-day world? Mr. Johnson asks his students, “Do you think people should still have the protections of the Fourth Amendment today, even though it was written so long ago?”
Mr. Johnson is asking a great question. Are the principles in the Fourth Amendment still applicable to our modern day world? And what about the rest of the Constitution? When situations change, should we still be following a document that was written more than two centuries ago?
Investigate the primary sources. Do you think the Constitution of the United States and its older amendments apply to the modern day world as they are written now? Can amendments be used to make the Constitution applicable to the modern day world? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
An amendment is a change to the Constitution of the United States. While over 11,000 Amendments have been proposed since 1789 only 27 have been ratified (approved) as of 2021.