U.S. Supreme Court Guts 4th Amendment
The United States Supreme Court carved more flesh from every citizens’ right against unreasonable search and seizures, June 20, 2016. And, it’s a huge piece of flesh.
Before the high Court’s new decision, mere suspicion of criminal activity would not sustain a police officer’s illegal stop and arrest of a suspect. After all, taxpayers pay cops to enforce the law. With this brand new decision (Utah v. Steill, slip opinion 14-1373, June 20, 2016) any cop’s mere suspicion is good enough if anyone has an active warrant issued for their arrest regardless of the severity of the underlying offense. Yes, a parking ticket, an unpaid fine, a missed court appearance and the resulting failure to appear, provides an ALL CLEAR siren to arrest on mere suspicion.
In 2010, Edward Strieff exited a house where police suspected illegal drug sales were occuring. Exiting a house is no crime. It raises no justifiable excuse for illegally stopping, questioning, searching and arresting any citizen. Salt Lake City police officer, Douglas Fackrell, admitted that he stopped Mr. Streiff on the basis of his suspicions. Mr. Streiff, like millions of other Americans had an outstanding traffic warrant. So, the Supreme Court concluded that because of any warrant for any citizen, a police officer’s suspicion now ratchets up to grounds for search, seizure and arrest. That means, according to dissenting Justice Sonya Sotomayor:
Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant.
So, what’s there to worry about? Way back in 1961 the Supreme Court adhered to the concept that two wrongs don’t make a right. It once stated, “When ‘lawless police conduct’ uncovers evidence of lawless civilian conduct, this Court has long required later criminal trials to exclude the illegally obtained evidence.
Now, for instance, in Ferguson, Missouri, where 16,000 out of 21,000 mostly black citizens have outstanding warrants, over 75% of the citizenry just lost their constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Black lives may matter, but black rights don’t much anymore. Police manuals recommend a check for outstanding warrants on any stop. Radioing for warrants is standard operating procedure in jurisdictions nationwide.
For Americans expressing faith and joy in our free society, make sure to check every courthouse in every jurisdiction you’ve ever lived. Give onto Caesar what is Caesar’s due and pay those forgotten parking tickets. Otherwise you have no right against the State’s power to stop, search, and arrest you on mere suspicion.