of Good News… Well, Sort Of
we get a lucky break. The same Supreme Court that routinely tramples
the Constitution once in awhile stops mid-stomp, as if by dint of
some atavistic recollection of the liberty it was charged to uphold
kind of like a wife beater who realizes he maybe hit the
old gal once too much this time.
The Nine ruled
on Monday in U.S. v. Jones (PDF
here) that planting a GPS tracking device on a persons
car without a valid court order constitutes an illegal search and
therefore violates the Fourth Amendment. Which is wonderful
and right except its the exception that violates the
This same Supreme
Court has also ruled thats its a-ok to stop motorists
without a warrant or court order or even the thinnest pretext of
probable cause and subject them to searches. Literally. Their actual
bodies. By declining to even hear the case of Wisconsin v. Faust
back in 2005, a case challenging the constitutionality of non-consensual
blood draws at roadside sobriety checkpoints, the court affirmed
this odious practice. On top of the equally odious prior precedent
legalizing random stops on the basis of compelling state interest
and something called implied consent.
being the Talmudic process of judicial review, which deals not in
broad principles applied to particulars but with pedantic legalisms
defined by the purposeful absence of any reference to an over-riding
Mondays case, U.S. v. Jones, the Court over-turned
the conviction of Jones a DC drug dealer because someone
forgot to have the original search warrant renewed and that
became the basis for tossing out the subsequent evidence against
Jones gathered by the GPS device attached to his car.
In other words,
the broader Fourth Amendment issues were side-stepped. Thus, its
still ok for our Fourth (and Fifth) Amendment rights to be snipped
here, qualified there even nullified outright provided
the necessary legalisms are upheld. Right and wrong are irrelevant
This is strategically
essential, because it precludes even a discussion of the rightness
or wrongness of the Leviathan state as such and replaces
it with debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a
pin. It is why a copy of the Constitution can comfortably fit in
a standard envelope and be carried in your vest pocket while the
volumes of case law fill libraries and require hand trucks to move
The law cannot
deal in principle because it would render 90 percent of the legal
profession unemployed by rendering the law a simple matter of Does
it (or Does it not) conform to the simple, clearly stated principles
articulated by the language of the Constitution? And of course,
evaluating what the government does in terms of principle
would immediately expose the con by awakening the average man to
what is being done to him and that simply cannot be allowed.
jargon and cant and ratiocination.
There is Justice
(sic) Sotomayor prattling on about the constitutional impropriety
of non-physical searches (e.g., searches conducted by accessing
electronically available data) while embracing all manner of physical
searches, such as searches of your person and effects at the airport.And
Justice (sic) Scalia characterizing as unwise the application
of 18th century tort law to 21st century technology.
Whatever that is supposed to mean.
To the hair-splitting
mind of a Supreme, establishing these differences without a distinction
is the pinnacle of legal reasoning.
And they are
praised for it.
a non-Talmudic reading of the Fourth Amendment. Bear with me. It
requires perhaps the reading comprehension we expect of standard-issue
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.
How can anyone
who hasnt been fed a steady diet of lead paint chips from
infancy onward come up with exceptions to the principle
enunciated above? There is no mention or even innuendo in the direction
of a compelling state interest or exigent circumstances.
And implied consent? Really? How can any normal brain
come up with that one?
is simple: Spend three years in law school.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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