Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Government agents can legally sneak onto your property and plant a tracking device.

Our Constitution rights are slip, slip, slipping away.

"Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway - and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements." (read more)

So ruled The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is the most liberal of the circuit courts. The ninth covers California and eight other western states. Hopefully this decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court and be reversed, but for now this is the law. The ruling stems from a 2007 case when Drug Enforcement Administration agents suspected an individual of growing marijuana and snuck onto his property in the dead of night and placed a GPS tracking device underneath the suspects Jeep parked in the driveway just a few feet from his home.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says, "
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."

The ninth ruled that because the vehicle was in an area readily accessible that 4th Amendment protections did not apply. Think about that: If the owner would have had the car parked in a garage or had a gate, the placing of the device would have been illegal, but because it was readily accessible, the slipping onto the property and placing the tracking device was legal. So, poor people who do not live behind gated driveways or have garages have lesser rights than those who do.

In the last few years we have seen a steady erosion of our rights. Following the attack on 9-11, the administration of George W. Bush weakened our constitutional protections in the name of security and the administration of Barack Obama has accelerated that weakening of our rights in the name of health care reform and financial reform. Now the 9th Circuit Court has further eroded our constitutional rights in the name of combating marijuana.

Chief Judge Kozinski, a conservative justice appointed by President Ronald Reagan, dissented form the ruling saying, "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last."

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