Archive for August 12th, 2008

The Slow Death of the Fourth Amendment

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects American citizens from being subjected to police intrusions without "probable cause".  The Michigan Supreme Court held that DUI roadblocks violated this constitutional protection.  On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, that decision was reversed. 

In a 5-4 decision, the Court found a "DUI exception" to the Fourth Amendment.  Although admittedly a violation of the Fourth Amendment, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, the "minimal intrusions" into citizens' privacy was  "outweighed" by the governmental interest in apprehending drunk drivers.  Sitz v. Michigan

I've often reminded readers of this blog that we are a nation of legal precedent:  once a legal doctrine is adopted by the courts in a specific situation, it is thereafter applied in a broader context.  The danger of the Sitz decision goes far beyond the DUI roadblock situation:  if  police can stop you without reason for possible drunk driving today, then they can stop you for any reason tommorrow.  (See Sobriety Checkpoints: The Slippery Slope.)  


Community Declares War on Crime

Mayor issues curfew order

Helena, Ark.  Aug. 7  -  Mayor James Valley Thursday issued an executive order declaring an emergency curfew in certain sections of Helena-West Helena effective immediately.

In his order, Valley states the city has the duty to provide protection for its citizens and visitors and that certain areas of the city have been “under siege” with repeated gunfire, loitering, drug dealing and other general mayhem.

Valley has ordered H–WH officers to treat the “curfew zone” as a “zero tolerance zone”, which means that no loitering, “hanging out” will be permitted. All foot traffic, bicycle, horseback, moped, motorcycle, riding mower, golf cart or other mode of transportation will be subject to stop and investigation. (Emphasis added)
 

And this is how it starts….


(Thanks to David O'Shea)

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