Goodbye 4th Amendment…GOODBYE!
A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the atrocious , authoritarian decision of the US Supreme Court, which found as constitutional the knocking down of an apartment door and the warrantless search thereof predicated on the smell of burning marijuana and the admittedly erroneous belief by the police that a known drug dealer had fled and sought sanctuary within the apartment..I lamented then that this was a conscious evisceration of the Fourth Amenedment. As if to prove my point, the Authoritarian Supreme Court has struck again.
Al Kidd was arrested and detained for 16 days and placed on “supervised release” for 14 months, NOT because there was probable cause to believe he had committed a crime, NOT because there was reasonable suspicion he had committed a crime, but , rather, because he was alleged to be a “material witness” in the case against another scary-named defendant,Omar al-Hussayen.
At the direction of John Ashcroft federal officials and prosecutors got a compliant judge to issue the “material witness” warrant , by alleging under oath in an affidavit that Al-Kidd had “crucial” information about the case against Omar that would be “lost” if Al-Kidd was not detained. 14 months later Omar was tried and Al-Kidd was not even called as a witness, much less did he have “crucial” evidence. Al-Kidd brought suit against John Ashcroft for violating his 4th Amendment rights. Ashcroft responded by motion to dismiss claiming he had “absolute or qualified immunity”. The trial Court denied Ashcroft’s motion, the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. The case worked its way to the US Supreme Court, which isssued its AUTHORITARIAN ruling in fvaor of the AUTHORITARIAN, John Ashcroft. Al-Kidd’s complaint alleged that, “in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft authorized use of the material-witness statute to detain individuals with suspected ties to terrorist organizations. It is alleged that federal officials had no intention of calling most of these individuals as witnesses, and that they were detained, at Ashcroft’s direction, because federal officials suspected them of supporting terrorism but lacked sufficient evidence to charge them with a crime. It is alleged that this pretextual detention policy led to the material-witness arrest of al-Kidd, a native-born United States citizen.”
The AUTHORIATRIAN Supreme Court pays lip service to the history of the Fourth Amendment, developed as it was in response to English ” general warrants”. But lip service is the ONLY fealty, the ONLY fidelity that Court shows , as they deftly, consciously put another nail in the coffin of the Fourth Amendment.
For what the AUTHORITARIAN Supreme Court has now approved is Federal Officials, including the Attorney General, LYING UNDER OATH to arrest someone when their unarticulated subjective intent is to detain WITHOUT actual evidence under the PRETEXT that the detainee has evidence “crucial” to another case. As long as a judicial officer “rubber stamps” their warrant(obtained with an invalid and false affidavit) then the action is deemed “objectively valid”, nothwithstanding the “subjective intent ” of Ashcroft or other federal officials.
The Tyrant Scalia , and the rest of the Court is flat out wrong! The Court of Appeals is correct: Ashcroft consciously gutted the substantive provisions of the Fourth Amendment in his unbridled zeal to detain an AMERICAN citizen who Ashcroft suspected of being sympathetic to terrorism, but for which Ashcroft had NOT EVEN enough evidence to arrest, much less convict.
In the name of “security” the Court guts the Fourth and ignores Franklin’s sage advice from another era fraught with as much, if not more, peril to our nation’s very existence: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”