To be sure, rummaging around through people’s personal papers may well turn up the occasional bad guy, but that is not the only consideration. No doubt law enforcement agents would also find it useful to walk into people’s homes at will, but we don’t allow them to do so because that would intrude on our reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes. And just as we reasonably expect privacy in our homes, so, too, do we expect that border agents will not base their decisions to search through our electronic information on a whim or a hunch. Put another way, requiring law enforcement agents to possess objective reasons for a search is a feature of our constitutional framework, not a bug.
June 5th, 2013
[For those who haven’t heard yet. The DHS is claiming the following line of BS regarding searches at the border.
[A]dding a heightened [suspicion-based] threshold requirement could be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefit. First, commonplace decisions to search electronic devices might be opened to litigation challenging the reasons for the search. In addition to interfering with a carefully constructed border security system, the litigation could directly undermine national security by requiring the government to produce sensitive investigative and national security information to justify some of the most critical searches. Even a policy change entirely unenforceable by courts might be problematic; we have been presented with some noteworthy CBP and ICE success stories based on hard-to-articulate intuitions or hunches based on officer experience and judgment. Under a reasonable suspicion requirement, officers might hesitate to search an individual’s device without the presence of articulable factors capable of being formally defended, despite having an intuition or hunch based on experience that justified a search.
Translation: “We don’t need to specify a reason why we are seizing and searching your property.”
Now many may have forgotten so I will provide you an extra reminder of the area the DHS would like to claim as free from that pesky 4th Amendment.
For more on that go back and read my article on it (dated 2008). So think about what the department of homeland security is claiming as within their legal abilities, and then think long and hard about that map where they can put up “border inspection points” at will. Think your safe just because you don’t regularly travel out of the country? Get real.
Listen folks, you either have these rights or you don’t. They’re not predicated on some theory that you surrender them because you want to do X. NO! If the government wants to search my personal effects, they must present a case including evidence that I have committed a crime, or that I intend to harm another. *Note I said harm, the war on drugs needs to go to!* The only way you end up with this current view of the law is through twisted perversion and a lackadaisical attitude that say “I don’t care, what’s it matter?”
Just because I want to fly to visit my friends in Nashville, doesn’t mean I surrender my 4th amendment rights and agree to have someone fondle me and my wife. It’s horse crap and frankly if we don’t stop it, it will just get worse. There’s two options for stopping it, we get the courts to do their damn job, or well, use your imagination for the second option.
News flash folks, in a free land bad people some times end up doing bad things. Its comes with territory. Honestly though even in your perfect police state, the crazy guy can still do damage, even more so due to the delayed response. Grow a pair, embrace the responsibility and with it experience freedom. It’s freaking AWESOME. –B]