A federal appellate court ruled last week that police can delay a routine traffic stop as long as necessary to conduct a search for drugs. In its decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the validity of a thirty-minute traffic stop in Maryland because the arresting officer claimed the nervous driver had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror and had previously been spotted driving in a run-down neighborhood.
“First, the presence of several air fresheners — commonly used to mask the smell of narcotics — hanging in the Mercedes,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote to explain the source of probable cause. “The prior traffic stop of the Mercedes in a drug-trafficking area, Branch’s evident nervousness, the presence of air fresheners, and the fact that Branch was driving a car not registered to him. These factors, in combination, could form the basis for a ‘reasonable suspicion’ of narcotics trafficking.”
First of all, the state should not be prosecuting anyone for drug crimes. Then there’s that word again: “reasonable.” Should the government itself determine whether its own actions and policies are reasonable? According to Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “a state is an institution that decides who is right and wrong in conflicts involving itself” and thus, at least (but not limited to) in the case of victimless crimes, the state is both prosecutor and judge. It’s not difficult to realize that this is a conflict of interest. State justice is an oxymoron; it is not a neutral third party.
Along Stephan’s line of reasoning, the problem with state justice (or rather, non-justice) is the state. Reforms can only do so much. I <3 libertarian anarchy!9:33 am on August 27, 2008 Email Manuel Lora