Controversial regulations are currently threatening the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment around America's borders, and most of the country's citizens remain oblivious to the crisis. The searing documentary Failure to Obey seeks to rectify this through a first-hand account of these injustices.
Nearly 200 million United States citizens are currently residing in regions known as constitutional free zones. These zones include all territories within 100 mile radius of the country's borders. Residents and visitors to these areas are subject to the scrutiny of random checkpoints, where the protections against unreasonable search and seizure are often tremulous at best.
The director of the documentary, Pastor Steven L. Anderson, was stopped at one of these checkpoints in Arizona. When he refused to open his trunk to checkpoint officers, he was brutally tasered and pinned to the ground, resulting in injuries to his forehead that required eleven stitches to repair. He was later arrested for failure to obey. Having recorded most of the incident from a camera he kept in his car, Anderson posted the footage online. Soon, his story went viral and national news agencies took notice.
Is the existence of these checkpoints, and the protocols followed by their attendees, constitutionally protected? Or is this an example of unlawful enforcement and flagrant disrespect for the rights of United States citizens?
"We are losing our freedoms in America," Anderson preaches to his congregation in the film, "if they can take away the Fourth Amendment and search you without a warrant."
Anderson's contention, as he argues in court, is that he has every right as a U.S. citizen to refuse compliance with the border patrol's orders for what he views as an unlawful and warrant-less search of his vehicle. His stance is made even more persuasive by the footage he captures of subsequent stops he endures at border checkpoints, which he must cross on a regular basis due to work demands. The legal battle that ensues following Anderson's arrest provides further troubling evidence as to the questionable constitutionality of these regulations.
Failure to Obey restricts its focus to the story of one man, but his dilemma carries implications for which all U.S. citizens could fall victim.