Two Court Decisions Further Destroy Fourth Amendment Protections

constitutionBy Derrick Broze

Two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal court in Virginia continue the erosion of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

Two controversial rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal judge in Virginia have civil liberties activists concerned about future abuse of power by law enforcement. On June 20, the Supreme Court ruled that evidence of a crime can be used against a defendant even if the evidence was gathered illegally. In a 5 to 3 decision, the court’s liberal judge warned that the ruling might encourage future rights violations.

The Associated Press reports:

The ruling comes in a case in which a police detective illegally stopped defendant Joseph Edward Strieff on the streets of South Salt Lake City, Utah. A name check revealed an outstanding warrant for him. Police Detective Doug Fackrell arrested Strieff and routinely searched him, finding that he was carrying methamphetamine.

The case raised the question of whether the valid warrant outweighs the stop, which was illegal because Fackrell lacked any reasonable suspicion that Strieff had been violating the law. It was the court’s latest case that questions whether evidence should be thrown out of court because the police did something wrong or illegal that led to the discovery of the evidence.

Since the 1914 case Weeks v. United States, the Supreme Court has interpreted the 4th Amendment to mean that evidence obtained through a violation of the Fourth Amendment is inadmissible in court. According to the Supreme Court’s more liberal judges, this ruling could set a dangerous new precedent.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision a threat to constitutional rights. “The court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” Sotomayor wrote with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant.

In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan said the ruling “creates unfortunate incentives for the police – indeed practically invites them to do what Fackrell did here.”

Meanwhile, a federal court in Virginia ruled that the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into your personal computer because there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The decision stems from the prosecution of Edward Matish, one of hundreds of suspects in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation of the dark web child pornography site Playpen. In 2014 the FBI seized the server hosting Playpen, but continued to allow the site to operate while serving malware to thousands of people logging into the site. The malware sent identifying information from the attacked computers back to the FBI. There are now hundreds of cases pending across the country.

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US District Court Judge Henry Morgan denied an attempt to suppress evidence against Matish and said although the FBI had a warrant to hack the computers, it was not a requirement because there was no reasonable expectation of privacy while using the Internet.

Obviously, child pornography is a disturbing sickness and should be dealt with accordingly, but the court’s decisions will likely have a disastrous long-term effect on the Fourth Amendment. The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the Fourth Amendment in the case. The EFF writes:

Courts overseeing these cases have struggled to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law to the technology at issue. Recognizing this, we’ve been participating as amicus to educate judges on the significant legal issues these cases present. In fact, EFF filed an amicus brief in this very case, arguing that the FBI’s investigation ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment. The brief, unfortunately, did not have the intended effect.

The EFF notes  that they do not expect the ruling to hold up on appeal, but the idea that there should be no expectation of privacy while using the Internet is absolutely dangerous. To be certain, in the age of the Surveillance State one should never trust that any form of digital communication is safe from prying eyes and ears. If this decision (or even a similar one in the future) is upheld it would allow the police to remotely and randomly search and seize information from your computer or other electronic devices, without a warrant, and without probable cause. Sadly, with technology like cell site simulators, these violations of basic privacy and liberty are already taking place. These court decisions only help to cement the violations as the law of the land.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for and the founder of the Follow him on Twitter.

Derrick is available for interviews.

This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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13 Comments on "Two Court Decisions Further Destroy Fourth Amendment Protections"

  1. Quoting the three most liberal, anti-American “justices” — Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan– lends zero credibility to the author’s article.

    Sorry, but crackpots on the bench don’t provide persuasive arguments.

    • Anti American? It is the majority in this case. Take the political lenses off. Even a broke clock is correct 2 times a day, and the libs are now.

  2. cellaphaneman | June 28, 2016 at 5:49 am | Reply

    No doubt the joostice system will allow all illegal searches – so long as they have immunity.

    • Not only that but it will give any arresting agency and easier path to plant evidence on someone they are wanting to bust or just don’t like.
      Our SCOTUS has become another arm of those in our justice system that want to see us turned into a police state.
      So, seeing what they are doing now can you imagine what the top court in the country will end up doing to our constitution and the rights of the citizenry if the liberals are allowed to pick two or three new justices?
      This all started with Obama’s choices that our elected officials approved. The cancer is spread through the entire system. Washington needs to have it stree shaken up really hard. The we need to limit the time these so called career politicians can stay in office.

  3. The courts and judicial system are doing us a favor by exposing their crimes against America, out in the open for everyone to see. This corruption and abomination will end, and it won’t be pretty.

  4. When I was growing up, America was widely known as being “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Can anyone tell me what it has become since then? (Because I’m starting to not recognize it anymore.)

  5. You, Americans, you have to STOP your politicians gone mad

  6. sick

  7. The war on drugs is absurd.
    Good reason to consider secession.

  8. AnotherLover | June 29, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Reply

    Okay, for all the Edward Snowden fans out there, I’ve been saying it from the beginning: he hasn’t brought us anything we didn’t already know. Now in a court ruling a judge has stated it in plain English:

    “no reasonable expectation of privacy while using the Internet.”

    Snowden is a honeypot — a plant, a stooge — an imposter. He argues ad nauseum for encryption. Look: encryption is hacked thoroughly. If it’s more powerful than a set limit, it’s not legal to buy or sell. And this leads us back to the judge’s statement: the government owns the web. They say no one can hear you scream in outer space. Well, no one can hear a computer on the internet unless it speaks through the routers and switches that link it together. The Government has full layer 1 access to the internet, period. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t exist. The Department of Defense created it. And since they do have that access, using encryption available on the open market just paints a target on you in terms of government surveillance, and using stronger encryption will lead to a knock on your door.

    Just sayin’

  9. I knew this would happen once the authorities became dumbed down and illiterate like the rest of the country. They can’t even read plain english written in the 4th amendment.
    Once judges become stupid we are in trouble- yeah, we are in trouble.

  10. brian richmond | June 30, 2016 at 9:26 am | Reply

    all the dead soldiers died for nuthin as we lose more freedom every day

  11. Can you tell me how someone who swore an Oath of Office can exceed their mandate on legislation, decree, or court rulings and not be committing a crime?
    Perhaps this might be easier. Can you tell me how a branch of the government, with the Oath to honor the Constitution to the letter, can rule beyond their scope of action? Does it not still take a successful Amendment Process including 3/4 of the States legislatures to add to, subtract from, or alter in any form or manner the Constitution of “These” United States?
    In the Constitution, the only two crimes that warrant the death penalty are debasing the currency and treason. When did we change that?

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