Constitution: The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) – See How – People V. Meyers Case with the Dickerson Case

The Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.  The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.” –United States Courts

I. Similarities

The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) of the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights.  The Bill of Rights protects the United States Citizenry against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The Fourth Amendment in addition requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.  The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) was instituted in response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which was a general type of search warrant during the American Revolution.  Search and arrest may be limited in scope according to specific information pertaining to or supplied to the issuing court, usually by a law enforcement officer, who has been sworn by it.  The afore can be applied to MINNESOTA, Petitioner v. Timothy DICKERSON, 508 U.S. 366 (1993) and may be applicable to Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. (1926) but, more than likely does not have standing.  

II. Differences

In both the Dickerson and Myers case, there is the question of constitutionality, but the Myers case does not exactly fall under the Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) in that both cases raise different questions of judicially sanctioned and supported the probable cause.  In the Dickerson case, this was a police officer’s right to search with probable cause under the Fourth Amendment.  The Myers case involved the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, removing Myers, a postmaster first class, without seeking Senate approval. The latter applies to Article II, Section 1, Clause 1, and reads, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

III. Gaps

The grounds brought in each case are contrary raising huge gaps.  In the Myers case, one fact is that President Woodrow Wilson removed Myers without seeking Senate approval.  The constitutionality of this was questioned. In the Dickerson case during a further tactile investigation, the officer formed the belief there was cocaine on Dickerson’s person. The officer reached into Dickerson’s pocket and confirmed the mass was a small bag of cocaine. Because of that discovery, Dickerson was charged with possession of a controlled substance, despite the fact the initial search was for a weapon, not contraband.

The Dickerson case could have gone either way, as it was a yes /no decision.  In conclusion, regarding Dickerson, the court stated the police officers’ patdown of Dickerson was out of the boundaries allowed in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) which states a protective patdown search should only involve what is necessary for detecting weapons.  It was determined the officer already knew Dickerson’s jacket pocket did not hold a weapon at the time he found cocaine via further tactile investigation.

The Myers case was split.  Having reviewed the legislative debate of the First Congress in 1789 that had to deal with the interpretation of the President’s appointment of power, Chief Justice Taft concluded that the power to remove appointed officers is vested in the President alone. Taft concluded, to deny the President that power would not allow him to “discharge his own constitutional duty of seeing that the laws be faithfully executed.”

There are huge gaps between Executive Power and the Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV).  The reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment applies not only to a search in combination with a seizure but also to a search without a seizure, as well as to a seizure without a search. The latter cannot be found to be applicable in the Myers case except within one fact; both cases allegedly abused constitutional power.  

Concerning executive power, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and he/she can make treaties with the approval of the Senate. He/she is also responsible for nominating the heads of all of the Departments, which the Senate must approve as well. He/she can issue executive orders, which are similar to laws, except that they do not have to be approved by Congress. The keywords here were “…with approval of the senate.”  (Hames. Ekern. 2012.) President Wilson acted without the consent of the senate but was found to be within his rights later and exonerated.  Similarly, in the Dickerson case, it was concluded that though the court held it was legal to detect contraband during a lawful patdown search that did not constitute the furthering of invasion of privacy.

IV. Should the Dickerson precedent apply?

In both cases, it was stated that the Dickerson case was a “yes and no” conclusion, and in the Myers case, it was a “split” decision. This indicated that in both cases, though diametrically different, constitutional law is the supreme authority and law of the land. The latter is the overriding of state laws and/or statutes –  being the determining force behind state and Executive powers.


Hames, J.B., Ekern, Y. (2012). Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing. Fourth Edition. Chapter 4. Pgs. 87-93. Appendix A. Pg. 414, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall

3 thoughts on “Constitution: The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) – See How – People V. Meyers Case with the Dickerson Case

  1. Good post. As a Civil Libertarian, this Amendment falls only below the 2nd for me, in terms of importance to the well-being of the Republic.

    However, continual erosion by the political elite of the major parties, has largely left the 4th an empty shell of it’s intended purpose. The concept of ‘digital property’ has given even greater “justification” to surveil Citizens.

    I’m not optimistic that we don’t devolve into the surveillance-state dystopia’s that are the plot of so many films.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oaths or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or thing to be seized.”

    It does seem pretty clear, doesn’t it? And it all worked well until advances in technology caused the government (courts) to declare that no one has a right to privacy on cell phones, social media, other electronic venues, or outside the confines of their homes (to wit, their yards) — and that everyone may be subject to the government’s seizure without warrant of their cell phone records, contacts, emails, and other electronic property, including their iPads and laptops, and secret courts may not be compelled to disclose the probable cause of warrants and may even consider falsified oaths and affirmations, as was done by the FBI in the case of the fictitious Trump dossier, from which no one was ever arrested or held in contempt by these so-called “secret courts.” The Fourth Amendment, once a cornerstone of American democracy has fallen on hard times … and I cannot think of a single case where anyone, including Trump, ever filed to redress such grievances. Or maybe they did, and we don’t know it because … well because the courts are secret. This is the sort of thing the Gestapo used to do (and get away with). You may be interested in Caniglia v. Strom ( 593 US 2021 wherein the court acknowledged that not every question was answered by the court.

    I completely agree with CI on this.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: