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Supreme Court Update

-- The Virginia Car Search Case

What the Court did: The Court ruled the federal Fourth Amendment does not bar police officers from searching and seizing evidence for which there is probable cause -- even in connection with arrests that violate state traffic laws.

How they voted: This was a unanimous decision.

What it means: If you're a crack addict it's probably best not to drive around.

Winners: Federalism/states' rights advocates. After all, individual states can impose greater search and seizure protections than those required by the U.S. Constitution; Virginia, for example, now has the option judicially to determine the above-referenced search violates its own constitution, or legislatively to exclude similar evidence from future state trials. Other winners include: criminal prosecutors, state attorneys general and law enforcement hawks.

Losers: Criminals. Liberal law professors. Criminal defense attorneys. Those who desire federal dominance over state criminal trials. Those who desire uniform laws.


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Comments (8)

I'm confused as to how this... (Below threshold)
ravenshrike:

I'm confused as to how this case doesn't violate fruit of the poisonous tree, regardless of whether it violates his 4th amendment rights directly or not. Everyone involved agrees that the arrest was illegal. Everyone also agrees that if they didn't arrest him, they would not have been able to make anything other than an eyes-only search of his car. The would therefore have not found the coke. Seems to me that it's a pretty explicit violation of the doctrine itself. If someone could clear up how this isn't the case I'd like to hear it.

This is predicated on it be... (Below threshold)
ravenshrike:

This is predicated on it being his car of course. If it was owned by someone else, they could have searched it with no trouble whatsoever.

In practice, the way this w... (Below threshold)
galoob:

In practice, the way this works is:

They can now stop you for any reason, as no real pretext is needed for the "arrest."

Then they can ask to search your car. If you refuse, they can search it anyways. If they find anything, it was in "plain sight," or you provided probable cause by your "furtive movements," statements, or the smell from the car.

That's not what the case sa... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

That's not what the case says, galoob.

"Winners: Federalism/states... (Below threshold)

"Winners: Federalism/states' rights advocates. After all, individual states can impose greater search and seizure protections than those required by the U.S. Constitution;"

Only a deliberately blind reading of the Fourth Amendment could reach such a conclusion:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizure, 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."

When the Framers intended to restrict only the federal government, they wrote "Congress shall make no law;" see the First Amendment. When they intended to guarantee a right against all governments, they used a construction that did not specify the violator: "shall not be violated" or "shall not be infringed," as in the Second and Fourth Amendments.

To claim that Virginia is Constitutionally permitted to redefine "unreasonable searches and seizures" to fit its own preferences is contrary to the plain words of the Fourth Amendment, and the overarching principles expressed in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Atop that, and at least as important: States have no rights. A right is the property of a moral principal, whereas a state, like any other government, is a delegated agent with defined responsibilities. States have delegated powers granted to them by their own constitutions, on the premise of the consent of the governed. All rights inhere in individuals.

This is a bad decision that will have perverse consequences for individual property rights and indirectly for the protection of individuals against involuntary self-incrimination.

Francis, while the 14th to ... (Below threshold)
LiveFreeOrDie Author Profile Page:

Francis, while the 14th to some extent incorporated the Bill of Rights in a positivist sense, the mechanism is through due process process.

As long as due process is observed, the federal framework is intended to devolve power down to the individual state level.

The exception, is that the Bill of Rights is fully binding, not just in a substantive due process sense, on the Federal Government. Agin, this is intentional, as the original purpose of the Bill of Rights was to LIMIT Federal Power.

The Federalist solution is address your grievance to the individual State apparatus. Jayson is correct in this regard. The power is devolved down to the individual state level.

Lastly, the term "States Rights" is interpeted by some as Racist. Individuals may have legitimately different interpretations of history. My reading of States Rights goes like this:

Our federalist structure was designed to be incompatible with slavery, even though slavery (original sin) was explicitly incorporated into the Constituion. It had to be to get everyone to form the union. None the less, the structure was designed to eliminate slavery because its just plain incompatible with Liberty, which is what the structure was designed to maintain.

So anyway, the system worked, and created an internal tension between the slave states and the north states, which led to the civil war. Right after the war, while everyone was tired, Power ( a northern industrial elite, and southern aristocracy) convinced the Repubic that we needed the 14th amendment, even though the 13th had explicitly overturned slavery.

The northern industrial head and the southern aristocracy WANTED the 14th, because it grants more power to the Senate and SCOTUS, allowing High power to effectively endrun the 13th amendment.

The 14th was a power grab, intended to weaken the federalist structure which kept high power in check.

That's the way I see it.

That's not what the case... (Below threshold)
galoob:

That's not what the case says, galoob.

Yeah, it doesn't say that, but the loopholes it creates will be used in the way I described.

Live Free or Die:

Which one of the amendments of the Bill of Rights do you object to?

None, Galoob. I'm just sayi... (Below threshold)
LiveFreeOrDie Author Profile Page:

None, Galoob. I'm just saying that the Bill of Rights was intended - this is just historical record - to limit the power of the Federal Government.

It was not intended to be used by the Federal Governement to obtain dominion over the various individual states. That is just a fact.

And I'm arguing that since the 14th, the federal government has used the Bill of Rights to restrict the individual states, just the opposite of its original intention - and that we have become addicted to federal recourse, when instead we should be asking our individual state governments to address many of these issues.

Lastly, I'm saying that the federalist framework was the primary driver for the elimination of slavery, and that that framework was distorted intentionally after the civil war so that slavery could remain in effect if not in name.




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