Saturday, July 10, 2010

Legislating away your reasonable expectation of privacy

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 Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. - 4th Amendment
And just what constitutes an "unreasonable" search or seizure. According to the US Supreme Court it comes down to whether one has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in a given situation. Being in your home is different from being at the ballpark. Being in your backyard may be different than being at the zoo. Since we now have no reasonable expectation of privacy at the airport, there is no such thing as a unreasonable search (thank you, President Bush and members of Congress looking for any excuse to attack civil liberties).

And now come the zealots seeking to brand more motorists with the scarlet D. Lt. Scott Bratcher of the Dallas Police Department (apparently sending a police chief whose son shot and killed an area lawman is a faux pas) and Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield asked the legislature to allow police to set up DWI roadblocks -- even though such measures have been defeated numerous times due to legislators' concerns about the thousands of "innocent" drivers who would be inconvenienced.

As an interesting aside, according to the Dallas Morning News, the witnesses who testified before Sen. John Whitmire's committee included law enforcement officials, judges and "victims." Apparently no one care enough to ask to hear from defense attorneys or drivers who were either acquitted or had their cases dismissed.

The police would like to do away with that pesky little requirement that they have reasonable suspicion to stop a motorist or probable cause to arrest a motorist before they can subject them to roadside calisthenics and forcible blood draws.

Bill Lewis, the head of MADD, was unmoved by concerns that roadblocks would subject motorists to unreasonable searches. According to Mr. Lewis' vision of the world, since we are already subject to being searched at airports and the state capitol, that we all should sacrifice our right to privacy and allow ourselves to be subjected to unwarranted searches and seizures while driving on the highway.

Bill Lewis of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said innocent citizens already are subjected to searches, such as when they enter the airport and, in a more recent development, at the Capitol.
"I've never tried to sneak a gun through the Capitol or an airport, but I have to go through a checkpoint," Lewis said.

Others said they would like to see No Refusal Weekends expanded so that more judges will blindly sign search warrants authorizing forcible blood draws without questioning either the need for the motorist's blood or the probable cause behind the arrest.

Hey, it's only the Fourth Amendment we're talking about here.

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