Tag Archives: Fourth Amendment

More Spying and Lying, by Andrew P. Napolitano

The Trump administration is trying to make permanent the same unconstitutional spying authority that was used on Trump and the Trump campaign! From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

While most of us have been thinking about the end of summer and while the political class frets over the Democratic presidential debates and the aborted visit of two members of Congress to Israel, the Trump administration has quietly moved to extend and make permanent the government’s authority to spy on all persons in America.

The president, never at a loss for words, must have been asked by the intelligence community he once reviled not to address these matters in public.

These matters include the very means and the very secret court about which he complained loud and long during the Mueller investigation. Now, he wants to be able to unleash permanently on all of us the evils he claims were visited upon him by the Obama-era FBI and by his own FBI. What’s going on?

Here is the backstory.

After the lawlessness of Watergate had been exposed — a president spying on his political adversaries without warrants in the name of national security — Congress enacted in 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It prescribed a means for surveillance other than that which the Constitution requires.

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Federal Judges Are Waging War on the Fourth Amendment, by Chris Calton

The search and seizure amendment is basically being read out of the Constitution. From Chris Calton at mises.org:

In 1984, as part of Ronald Reagan’s renewed war on drugs, the Drug Enforcement Administration launched Operation Pipeline. This program was inspired by the strategies employed by state troopers in New Mexico who, after pulling somebody over, asked specific questions designed to determine whether the driver might be a drug trafficker. Combined with the financial incentives of federal grants for drug enforcement and civil asset forfeiture laws, state and local police had strong new incentives to find reasons to stop vehicles and search for drugs. Operation Pipeline was meant, in part, to train officers how to legally harass drivers.

The problem, of course, was the pesky Fourth Amendment, which prohibited warrantless searches without probable cause. The “probable cause” requirement for warrantless searches is conspicuously open to interpretation, but it imposed important constraints on police harassment by placing the burden of proof on the officer to produce specific facts to justify his suspicion. In 1968, however, the Supreme Court granted the first exemption to this constraint by establishing the “stop-and-frisk” rule. In Terry v. Ohio, the Court ruled that as long as a “reasonably prudent man” would believe that a suspect might be armed, the burden of proof to show probable cause is unnecessary.

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Drivers Beware: The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in the American Police State, by John Rutherford

Any encounter with the government carries risks, even a traffic stop. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

We’ve all been there before.

You’re driving along and you see a pair of flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach.

You’ve read enough news stories, seen enough headlines, and lived in the American police state long enough to be anxious about any encounter with a cop that takes place on the side of the road.

For better or worse, from the moment you’re pulled over, you’re at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

This is what I call “blank check policing,” in which the police get to call all of the shots.

So if you’re nervous about traffic stops, you have every reason to be.

Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.

Try to assert your right to merely ask a question during a traffic stop and see how far it gets you.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window.

Unfortunately, as Gregory Tucker learned the hard way, there are no longer any fail-safe rules of engagement for interacting with the police.

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Unconstitutional Searches of Electronic Devices at American Airports Have Quadrupled, by Dagny Taggart

The government, particularly the TSA and border authorities, continue their wars on the First and Fourth Amendments. From Dagny Taggart at theorganicprepper.com:

“Go to any airport in this country and you’ll see how well our government is dealing with the terrible danger you’re in. TSA staffers are wanding 90-year-old ladies in wheelchairs, and burrowing through their suitcases. Toddlers are on the no-fly list. Lipsticks are confiscated. And it’s all done with the highest seriousness.

It’s a show of protection and it stirs the fear pot, giving us over and over an image of being in grave personal peril, needing Big Brother to make sure we’re safe.” – Ann Medlock, Home of the Brave

The federal government wants us to believe that its growing disregard for our First and Fourth Amendment rights is in the interest of national security.

Thankfully, there are organizations that are attempting to bring attention to the ever-expanding police state – and are even willing to fight them in court.

America is turning into a Constitution-free zone.

Since 2015, U.S. government searches of travelers’ cellphones and laptops at airports and border crossings have nearly quadrupled.

You might be tempted to believe that these searches are done for good reasons.

You’d be mistaken.

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Uncle Sam Wants Your DNA: The FBI’s Diabolical Plan to Create a Nation of Suspects, by John Whitehead

The government wants your DNA and they’re going to get it whether you want them to have it or not. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“As more and more data flows from your body and brain to the smart machines via the biometric sensors, it will become easy for corporations and government agencies to know you, manipulate you, and make decisions on your behalf. Even more importantly, they could decipher the deep mechanisms of all bodies and brains, and thereby gain the power to engineer life. If we want to prevent a small elite from monopolising such godlike powers, and if we want to prevent humankind from splitting into biological castes, the key question is: who owns the data? Does the data about my DNA, my brain and my life belong to me, to the government, to a corporation, or to the human collective?”―Professor Yuval Noah Harari

Uncle Sam wants you.

Correction: Uncle Sam wants your DNA.

Actually, if the government gets its hands on your DNA, they as good as have you in their clutches.

Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—is embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As the New York Times reports:

“The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived. In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, starting this year, will enable approved police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to Codis, the national DNA database. Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.

Referred to as “magic boxes,” these Rapid DNA machines—portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from fool-proof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours—allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.

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Vigilantes with a Badge: Warrior Cops Endanger Our Lives and Freedoms, by John W. Whitehead

Militarized police are running roughshod over our civil liberties. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

I have known a lot of good cops, I have defended a lot of good cops, and I have been fortunate to call a number of good cops friends.

So when I say that warrior cops—hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge—have not made America any safer or freer, I am not disrespecting any of the fine, decent, lawful police officers who take seriously their oath of office to serve and protect their fellow citizens, uphold the Constitution, and maintain the peace.

My beef is with the growing squads of warrior cops who have been given the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.

These cops are little more than vigilantes with a badge.

Indeed, it is increasingly evident that militarized police armed with weapons of war who are allowed to operate above the law and break the laws with impunity have not made America any safer or freer.

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Supreme Court: Cops Can’t Track Cell Phone Location Without A Warrant, by Tyler Durden

There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the Supreme Court came out the right way on a civil liberties issues. The bad news is that it was a 5-4 decision, not the 9-0 it should have been. Which shows how tenuous our civil liberties are. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that law enforcement cannot track people’s movements for periods of weeks or months without a warrant.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the acquisition of cell-site records by government officials is covered under the Fourth Amendment.

Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the opinion sided with the court’s four liberal judges; Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer – while Justice Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

While stressing that their decision doesn’t question longstanding surveillance techniques and tools such as security cameras, Roberts said that historical cell-site records present even greater privacy concerns than monitoring via GPS.

“Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities,” Roberts said, adding “While individuals regularly leave their vehicles, they compulsively carry cell phones with them all the time.

“A cell phone faithfully follows its owner beyond public thoroughfares and into private residences, doctor’s offices, political headquarters, and other potentially revealing locales.”

The conservative judges strongly objected – writing four times as much in their dissents than Roberts did for the court’s majority.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said the government’s search of cellphone location records was permissible because they were held by the service provider, not the individual. “The court’s new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement.”

Justice Samuel Alito called it a “revolutionary” ruling that “guarantees a blizzard of litigation while threatening many legitimate and valuable investigative practices upon which law enforcement has rightfully come to rely.” –USA Today

To continue reading: Supreme Court: Cops Can’t Track Cell Phone Location Without A Warrant