Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Groping around the Fourth Amendment

It starts off so benignly. Most folks don't even notice it. Most of those who do shrug it off like it's no big deal. The few who raise a stink are given dirty looks and called kooks. Then it passes. Another little bit of our reasonable expectation of privacy cast aside like yesterday's trash. Then the cycle repeats itself.

First there was the drastic overreaction after 9/11. I practice criminal law. Guess what? If the bad guys want to do something, they are going to find a way to do it -- regardless of how many obstacles you erect. When it comes to security, we are always fighting yesterday's threat.

Increased security measures at the airports led to an arms race among cities and counties to show how important they were. Metal detectors went up in courtrooms in counties big and small -- even in traffic court. If the machines weren't inconveniencing enough folks, the powers-that-be turned up the sensitivity so that people coming to conduct business at the courthouse had to take off their belts and shoes.

Now, not only are the peeps and perverts at TSA subjecting the travelling public to full body scans and groping, a couple of counties out in Colorado have installed full body scanners in their courthouses.

Angela Hellenbrand received a quick pat down Tuesday by security guard Mike Couts at the Castle Rock courthouse about 30 miles south of Denver. A guard in another room monitoring the full-body scans alerted Couts to an object in Hellenbrand's left rear pocket. It was the paper backing of a "Junior Deputy Sheriff" sticker that one of the guards had given her two young boys.
"It's OK," Hellenbrand said. "It's how they do security here. It's my second time through."

I wonder if Ms. Hellenbrand will have such cheery thoughts after the government has legislated away our reasonable expectation of privacy outside the home. My wife thinks I'm Mr. Crankypants when I tell people I refuse to fly unless I have no other choice. She's seemingly unconcerned about the erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights.

Maybe it's because she grew up in Canada and viewed government as a paternalistic institution designed to help people. I, on the other hand, grew up in Texas and understand that the reason we have a Bill of Rights is to protect ourselves from the power of the state.

1 comment:

SPN Headlines said...

Hi Paul!

The Program to Examine Random Voyagers (PERV) has attracted some rather unsavory characters to the ranks of the TSA......SHOCKING story at:

Happy Thanksgiving, and Peace! :-)