Monday, April 02, 2012

RIP: 4th Amendment

And while we're at it, we might as well also admit that the terrorists have won.

Justices Approve Strip-Searches for Any Offense

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

The rest.



Don McArthur said...

Sorry, 4th Amendment doesn't apply universally (eg. searches at national borders are not governed by the 4th Amendment, searches incident to arrest are also not subject to the restrictions, searches under exigent circumstances, etc.) This is not a significant expansion.

Brendan Keefe said...

Not to go all Originalist on you, but the full text of the 4th Amendment is as follows (emph. added):

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.

That these rights have been chipped away in the past in ways such as those you enumerate does not change my view that it ought to be illegal, under the 4th Amendment, for the cops to strip search anybody they please.

Don McArthur said...

When I read comments like " ought to be illegal, under the 4th Amendment, for the cops to strip search anybody they please..." I have to admit some concern that some degree of nuance is being missed. Sigh. People being jailed are stripped-searched. There are no roving bands of jack-booted police grabbing random citizens and removing their clothes.

So you're thinking the whole Amendment/judicial review/interpretation business needs to be shit-canned, eh? I'll notify the wife to burn her voter registration card.

Bartender Cabbie said...

Meanwhile in other 4th Amd news; Frederica Wilson D-Fl advocates arresting George Zimmerman "for his own protection." Sure.

Brendan Keefe said...


... some degree of nuance is being missed.

Okay, granted. But come on, it's not like everyone who gets grabbed by the cops and brought to jail is armed and dangerous. Or for that matter, even a criminal. Look at Albert W. Florence, the guy whose case it was that this SCOTUS decision was based on.

And let's acknowledge the reality of bullying cops now having yet another tool of harassment at their disposal. You think they aren't going to start using this? Grab a kid with a dime bag, or a hoodie, or a protest sign, or a reporter's notebook or video camera, and place him or her under arrest, and take him or her down to the station for a little forced pole dance?

There are circumstances where I would of course agree that more intrusive personal searches are warranted. I'm just opposed to the bedwetters of this country saying, "Oh, what the hell. Treat everyone like a terrorist. Can't be too safe!"


Sorry, but that strikes me as nut-picking, which doesn't have anything to do with the general principle under discussion here. You can't just go running around looking for some action by some random member of Congress and expect to hold that up as some sort of meaningful rebuttal.

I'm not going to look into this, because the Trayvon Martin case doesn't have anything to do with what Don and I are arguing about here.

However, if you like, here is my statement for the record: I don't support placing GZ into "protective custody" against his will. Much as I am appalled by his actions, not to mention wannabe cops getting to pack heat in general, not to mention Florida's dumbass laws about when deadly force may be used, I still respect the principle of rule of law enough not to agree with elected officials who advocate ignoring the law for momentary convenience or to throw some red meat or whatever. I'd say that pretty much all of our personal liberty problems in the US since 9/12/2001 stem from this sort of behavior.

Jack said...

E.L. Doctorow mentions the ruling in a great piece in yesterday's New York Times.

Jack said...

I didn't say anything at the time, and I don't know who Don is, but I must admit I was a little taken aback by his casual dismissal of the significance of this ruling.

Some people, obviously, are just a lot more naturally amenable, I guess, to a police state.