May 17, 2011 |
The Supreme Court gave police more leeway to break into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence otherwise might be destroyed. Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs. Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.
March 27, 2013 |
In his opinions on abortion and gay rights, Justice Antonin Scalia has taken an offensively narrow view of the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. But when it comes to the 4th Amendment's more specific protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, Scalia has been a strong voice for individual rights. That was the case again Tuesday. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Scalia came down hard on police in Florida who, without having obtained a warrant, deployed a drug-sniffing dog at a homeowner's front door.
December 15, 2006
Re "Eyes on the ears," editorial, Dec. 12 Privacy is something given to us by the 4th Amendment. Yet the president himself confirmed that the National Security Agency has monitored many Americans without court order. So why is our government, whose job it is to uphold our Bill of Rights, violating this right? There needs to be stronger monitoring of NSA operations. The FBI, White House and all others involved admit to eavesdropping without court order, yet they cannot give us any type of report on how it is aiding their anti-terrorist efforts.
February 16, 2014
Re "Obama's undiplomatic picks," Editorial, Feb. 13 It has been a crushing disappointment to this reader, who voted twice for Barack Obama, to follow instance after instance of our president's lack of insight, foresight or hindsight. But it isn't only his poor ambassador picks that trouble me. It started with the outrageous selection of two men - Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, who were instrumental in bringing about the changes that led to the financial meltdown - to manage our monetary policies.
March 15, 2013 |
Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a tea party darling, evidently is so proud of his exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the Senate Judiciary Committee's session Thursday, he posted a video of it on YouTube. At issue was the constitutionality of S 150 , Feinstein's proposal to ban semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. As political theatrics go, it's pretty good: Cruz did that old courtroom-lawyer trick of asking a loaded question based on a false analogy and then challenging Feinstein to answer it. And he achieved the intended result: She came across as flustered and evasive, when she needed to point out how wrong Cruz's premise was. In fact, Cruz's query helps illustrate why Feinstein's approach is consistent with the Bill of Rights.
December 30, 2012
If a law enforcement agency wants to examine your snail mail or the contents of your computer hard drive, it must obtain a search warrant, which means it must convince a judge that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. But no warrant is required to obtain email or documents you have stored in a computer "cloud" so long as they are 180 days old. That would have changed under legislation recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee at the behest of its chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.)
January 25, 2012
By a surprisingly unanimous vote, the Supreme Court this week ruled that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a tracking device to a car or other vehicle. The decision is a welcome affirmation of the constitutional right to privacy in an era of advanced technology. But the majority opinion's rationale was needlessly narrow. Whether there is a broad right to freedom from new kinds of intrusive electronic surveillance remains to be answered. The case involved the conviction of Antoine Jones, a suspected drug dealer in the District of Columbia who was arrested after being monitored for 28 days by a global positioning system device surreptitiously attached to his Jeep by law enforcement agents without a warrant.
October 30, 2004
Re "Chief Justice Has Thyroid Cancer," Oct. 26: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist gave us a gift. It sounds as though he will recover speedily and well, but his sudden illness brought to the forefront the pressing issue of judicial appointments that may occur during the next presidency -- appointments that could change the rights of Americans long into the future. There are seemingly many Americans, and reportedly most of them are women, who are still undecided as to how they will vote in this election.
June 9, 2013
Re "Feds tracking all U.S. calls," June 7 In her defense of the government's collection of data from nearly every phone call in the U.S., Senate Intelligence Committee head Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, "It's called protecting America. " I have always believed that the foremost duty of elected officials is to support and defend the Constitution. In this instance, the rights that need protection are guaranteed by the 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, 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.