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Nostalgia — Why Now?
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Amendment IV

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.

Seems like only yesterday this meant something.


1 Fallenmonk { 06.26.08 at 12:18 pm }

It quite obviously it began decaying in January 2001 and is almost to the point of vanishing altogether. It’s kind of like the Bill of Rights has a half-life or something. Then again if you are the typical GOP wingnut then the Bill of Rights is a little radioactive.

2 Bryan { 06.26.08 at 1:42 pm }

It isn’t just the GOP anymore. The Democrats control Congress.

3 Michael { 06.26.08 at 2:25 pm }

This bill did nothing to alter the status of the fourth amendment. It expanded FISA, which already existed, and brought more under its regulations than was previously included.

We ought not to have secret FISA courts at all issuing rubber stamp warrants. Bush hasn’t even been bothering with those warrants, however. FISA means there is theoretically judicial oversight.

4 Michael { 06.26.08 at 2:31 pm }

What is objectionable is the retroactive immunity from civil suit that was given to the telecoms, and thus put plaintiffs whose fourth amendment rights may have been violated out of court, though they could still bring a 1983 action.

5 Steve Bates { 06.26.08 at 3:22 pm }

Michael this bill is not an isolated incident but a part of a pattern. Much more than just retroactive immunity for telecoms is at stake here.

Consider, e.g., the recent ruling by a Ninth Circuit panel which allows Customs to seize an American citizen’s laptop on re-entry to the U.S., without a warrant and without even “reasonable suspicion,” making a copy of the HD if they wish.

This is not merely theoretical: the ruling undermines a couple of dozen lawsuits by people whose civil liberties were seriously infringed. The Fourth Amendment is under assault by people motivated entirely and only by the enhancement of their own power… and the courts are helping them.

6 Bryan { 06.26.08 at 4:15 pm }

You destroy the Fourth Amendment to take out Griswold
which makes Roe v. Wade go away, and no one has to mention abortion or sex.

The pattern is laid.

7 Michael { 06.26.08 at 5:29 pm }

Steve, you’re right that this is not an isolated instance, but the pattern has been clear for a longer time than just since 2001. As for Bryan’s suggestion that this has something to do with Roe v. Wade…I can’t come up with a sufficiently absurd response.

8 Steve Bates { 06.27.08 at 12:28 am }

Michael, you are right that the pattern, like so many today, goes back to approximately the Nixon era, but I don’t think you can accurately say it hasn’t worsened in the past eight years.

As for the threat to Roe v. Wade, that case was decided primarily on a Fourteenth Amendment basis, but a deliberate destruction of the Fourth Amendment endangers everyone who may or may not have arguably committed a crime, and believe me, some people will make the argument that abortion is a crime, whatever the courts may rule. Then again, I don’t have the credentials to comment on the legal aspect… all my contract work for Planned Parenthood has been in the IT arena. What about yours?

9 Bryan { 06.27.08 at 1:14 am }

The “due process” claim under the 14th is not firm, and neither is the “unenumerated right” claim under the 9th, but Griswold was the case cited in the main opinion as defining the “right of privacy”.

The 4th implies the right of privacy even if it can’t claim to make it manifest.

Roe was decided while Nixon was in the White House, and no matter how hard we try we don’t seem to able to get away from him. The Roe decision has many flaws as a decision, not as an outcome. There were stronger cases to be made, but they weren’t, and we are stuck with the shaky result.

This FISA amendment attacks a lot of Constitutional principles that the current Supreme Court shouldn’t be trusted with, but that’s where this is going.

Barring any major changes, Justice Kennedy will be deciding all of the cases for the foreseeable future.