of Rights – Amendment IV
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.
step out of the car and place your hands on the roof! Keep your
hands where I can see them at all times!"
but Officer…what's the problem? Why are you pointing your gun at
on the roof NOW!"
my god…hey, OUCH, those handcuffs hurt! What the hell did I DO?"
miles an hour in a 30mph zone, scumbag. School zone too. Now shut
your face or I'll put you in the holding cell with some very interesting
SCOTUS recently decided a case involving venerable 4th
Amendment to the US
Constitution. The court's "conservative" wing, aided
by one "liberal" handed down this decision concerning
the case of Gail Atwater vs. the city of Lago Vista and Bart Turek,
a Lago Vista police officer.
question is whether the Fourth Amendment forbids a warrantless arrest
for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seat-belt violation
punishable only by a fine. We hold that it does not," Justice
David Souter said for the court majority.
March 1997 Soccer mom Atwater was driving her pickup truck with
her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in the front seat. None
of them was wearing a seat belt. Officer Turek, observing violations,
pulled Atwater over.
discovering Ms. Atwater didn't have her papers (her purse had been
stolen the previous day), Offizier Turek of the Lago Vista Geheime
Staatspolizei proceeded to order this supposed citizen out of the
car, handle her roughly, handcuff her in front of her screaming
children and haul her off to the camps…er, I mean a holding cell.
she sued. And she lost. Goodbye 4th?
no. The Bill of Rights does not apply to the various states. They
were put into place as a brake on the powers of the Federal
government. As an example, the 1st Amendment prohibits
the establishment of a State (federal) religion, but some of the
states in colonial times did have established state churches. Perfectly
legal under a strict interpretation of the US
Constitution. So, what's the problem?
problem is twofold. Increasingly federalized and militarized local
police forces no longer respect us as American citizens. They are
the standing army that our Founding Fathers warned us against. Even
worse than the confusing multiplicity of armed Federal alphabet
agencies (there are only a few thousand members of them in
total, nothing an armed and vigilant citizenry couldn't handle),
they are being funded by federal taxes and trained by federal troops.
And increasingly, they have no compunction about killing you. Not
the bad guys. You.
of course, is brought to you in large part, by The War on Drugs
various states are complicit in this. Herein lies part two of the
problem. Starting with the conversion of Senators to SuperCongressman
by Amendment XVII, the states have lost most of the sovereign powers
left them in the aftermath of the Civil War, and have become mere
precincts of the federal government. Officer Turek might have well
have been an FBI agent, because the federal government is probably
where a good portion of his paycheck and training originated.
are being hemmed in day by day with an ever increasing mountain
of laws, executive orders and taxation, restricting our rights to
a degree that would have shocked a serf living in medieval England.
I don't recall ever reading about an officer of King John pulling
a serf off his mule and demanding u2018his papers'.
police have been converted from protectors of the peace to a veritable
standing army. Instead of guarding their flock from the wolves,
the common constables are now guardians of the State, keeping a
sharp eye out for dissent, illegal substance use and other crimes
du jour that offend our masters in Washington DC. The proud
motto Protect and Serve is no more. It's now Punish and Suppress.
But the wolves walk free.
the cornerstone of a free republic, our US
Constitution has truly become a mere scrap of one-ply parchment
for our masters to wipe their rears with. It's ignored by the federal
government and not insisted on by the various states. Abraham Lincoln
put an end to any really uppity behavior from the states, and Ike,
LBJ and JFK snuffed out the final gasps of independence from those
once sovereign institutions.
back to the case of Gail Atwater vs. the city of Lago Vista. As
I said, she was treated unfairly, but apparently not illegally,
under the laws of Texas. In bygone times if she was unable to receive
fair treatment in the so-called sovereign state of Texas, or successfully
lobby for changes to the constitution of Texas to prevent such abuses,
under our original federal system she would have had the right to
move to Louisiana, where perhaps the laws were fairer. She can still
move, but she won't be changing political masters if she does.
can't escape…and neither can you or I.
Elkins [send him mail]
is a freelance consultant and writer living in North Central Florida.