WOODSTOCK — A junior at River Ridge High School has taken on Fourth Amendment rights in a project on display at the Woodstock Public Library, just in time for Independence Day.
Chris Taylor, a rising senior in the top 7 percent of his class, has already received recognition at the state level for his paper, “The Fourth Amendment: A History of Infringement.”
The paper examines the history of the right of protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and will be on display at the local library throughout July.
The main library in Canton made contact with the Woodstock library, and Jody Simpson, adult services coordinator at Woodstock Public Library, said she reached out to the Taylor family, asking to showcase Taylor’s work because Simpson felt his research and paper tied in well with the July 4 holiday.
Simpson said she wanted to provide an opportunity for the community to read Taylor’s paper and think about the themes discussed. “It’s time to pause and reflect,” Simpson said, adding Taylor’s work is positive and impressive. Growing up in Cherokee County, where the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans was driven out in part because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, spurred his interest in citizen’s rights, Taylor said.
“I thought about how the Trail of Tears originated in this area,” he said. “It wasn’t a big thing, even though they were legal residents or wards of the state. They had their land taken away with no just cause and were forced to move west.”
The controversy surrounding Edward Snowden also worried Taylor around the time he was searching for a paper topic, he said.
“I was afraid we were losing our rights,” he said. “When the Snowden leaks were coming out, it was a big issue to everyone.”
Further fueled by news about the National Security Agency, Taylor said he found his topic for his Advanced Placement U.S. History class. “They’re finding out that the NSA has been spying on citizens for decades without anyone knowing and no warrants and no probable cause,” Taylor said. “I feel that’s going back to what we were trying to get away from in the Revolutionary War. That’s what the British would do … just walk into a home and search it whenever they felt like it. We’re moving back, not forward.”
He said he planned to enter his work in a National History Day competition, where he placed third in the region and second at the state level. Taylor traveled to the University of Maryland College Park for the national level, but did not place.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t win anything at nationals, but I’m planning to go again next year,” Taylor said, noting the theme for next year is leadership and he is already thinking about a paper on Marine General Brute Krulak.
Without the library, Taylor said he wouldn’t have been able to write his paper because most of his sources came from books. He said his paper took three months to write, with research filling half his time.
Taylor’s interest in protecting American rights extends to his plans to make a career of the military. He joined JROTC during his freshman year of high school, inspired by both of his grandfather’s and his father’s military career.
“He made that decision on his own, even though I have a military background,” Michael Taylor said, noting he explained to his son everyone has to pay their dues in becoming a warrior, and infantry work is “the tip of the spear.”
Chris Taylor plans to interview for a nomination from U.S. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, in November.