It is not very often I find myself in agreement with Ted Rall. He is so far left it's unreal - and I've been thoroughly enjoying his unhappiness with the current President. In Ted's eyes, Teh Won is practically a Republican. Considering how "progressive" a ton of them really are, perhaps he has a point.
At any rate, this is all about the Supreme Court's recent decision on strip searches in relation to the Fourth Amendment. First, a little background in case you aren't all caught up:
A sharply divided Supreme Court has ruled that individuals arrested for even the most minor offenses can be stripped searched before they are jailed while awaiting a hearing. The high court's five-to-four decision came in the case of Albert Florence, the finance director at a New Jersey BMW dealership. He was arrested, strip searched and held in prison for a week because of a computer error.
Florence, his wife, and four-year-old son, were driving to a family event when they were pulled over. Mrs. Florence was driving. She was not cited for any offense, but when the trooper did a roadside check on the owners of the car, he found an outstanding arrest warrant for Mr. Florence for failure to pay a fine seven years earlier. Florence was arrested, handcuffed and led away.
It would later turn out that the computer information was wrong. Florence had paid the fine years earlier, but the state had failed to purge the arrest warrant from its files.
In the meantime, Florence would find himself strip searched twice and jailed for seven days before he finally went before a judge and was released.
Seems legit to me, but I'm no Constitutional scholar (unlike the current resident of the White House, who seems to think the Supremes have no business messin' with legislation that was passed with a "strong majority"). There are several things that really bother me about all of this.
One - the obvious - it sure seems to be a perversion of our rights as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, Fourth Amendment.
But Justice Kennedy countered that given the number of total arrests each year - 13 million - it would be unworkable for correctional officials to exempt one class of prisoner from being strip searched. Indeed, he said, even people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals. He cited as an example the case of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, who was initially arrested for driving without a license plate.
When did our liberties become subservient to the convenience of the po po? You know, individual freedoms do come at a cost, and that is inevitably some inconvenience to others. Sometimes, a guilty man goes free. Sometimes, we hear something we don't like, but the person speaking it is free to speak it. Sometimes, a criminal is deprived of his life, but he should not have been attempting to rob someone of their lives and goods - try that in Great Britain, and the victim is the criminal. I am comfortable knowing that there is a slight chance of an arrestee getting away with something vs the chance that some bureaucratic screwup might find me in the hoosegow with Officer Friendly doing a colonoscopy on me, without lube or sedatives.
But Jeffro, you might say, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't have a problem! Well, sorry, but I do have a problem with it, and if you wanna volunteer for strip searches, be my guest. I'd rather not, thank you very much.
The other thing that is bothering me is where is the conservative, libertarian outrage? Shouldn't everyone who calls themselves a supporter of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution be upset over this? Silence is assent, they say, and right now, it looks like there is a ton of support for this decision by the Supremes. I've got the idea that we as conservatives have been getting a lot of mileage out of this current bunch on gun related issues and such, so maybe everyone is being quiet so as not to disturb the hornets' nest? Don't piss 'em off while they're deciding the health care issue? I dunno, it's a puzzle to me.
Here lately, it seems "we" are patting ourselves on the ass for all the major strides on the gun issue front, and truly, the affirmation of the Second Amendment has been heartening. However, we just have to go to an airport to have proof that the Fourth Amendment has been turned into a worn out chew toy for the DHS. Kelo vs City of New London pretty well warped the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. We seem to have a Court that upholds individual liberties as long as they involve individuals - ie: guns as self defense. But when we have individuals against the State, then our rights are suborned - no, you can't keep that house if we wanna put a shopping center there, or if we wanna make sure gramma ain't carryin' no binary explosives in her shampoo bottles, so we gotta look at her with a backscatter machine (it also helps if gramma looks like Raquel, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do).
This decision does not make me a happy camper.