On December 13, 2013, the US district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of American citizens' telephone records was "likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment (previously on MeFi). Today, DC's federal court of appeals overturned that ruling. The rationale is that the plaintiffs did not prove "that they were affected by the metadata-gathering program," so they did not have standing to challenge it in court. [more inside]
Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is filing suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as “upstream” surveillance.
In 1961, one dogged black woman took a stand against illegal police tactics. Today the fine folks at The Marshall Project profile one very important American you probably know almost nothing about. [more inside]
Stop and Frisk violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, federal judge holds. The ruling comes after the two-month trial in Floyd v. City of New York and finds the tactics and policies of the NYPD in conducting stop-and-frisk systemically violates both the 4th and 14th Amendments of New Yorkers of color. Stopping short of striking down stop-and-frisk more broadly, already upheld numerous times by the Supreme Court, Judge Scheindlin ordered an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the practice.
In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
As reported by Dan Carden - Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry. David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system. [more inside]
'Conservative justices appear to agree police should be allowed to enter a suspect's residence without a warrant if they suspect evidence is being destroyed.' 'Police officers who smell marijuana coming from an apartment can break down the door and enter if they have reason to believe the evidence might be destroyed, several Supreme Court's justices suggested Wednesday.''Scalia said the police couldn't go wrong by knocking loudly on the door. "Criminals are stupid," he said, and they often cooperate with police when they are not required to do so. They might open the door and let officers inside, or if not, the police can break in.''In the past, the high court usually has said police cannot enter a home or apartment without a search warrant because of the 4th Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures." But during arguments in a drug case, the court's conservatives said they favored relaxing that rule when police say they have a need to act fast.' [more inside]
A new twist in the controversy over the (ab)use of tasers. A judge in Niagara County, NY has decided that tasing a suspect who refused to submit to DNA testing was a reasonable use of force. Ryan Smith, accused of robbery and kidnapping, already submitted one sample, which was contaminated when the government sent it to the wrong laboratory, and refused to give one a second time. The police asked a prosecutor what to do. His response: they could use force to get the sample, but as little as possible. So they tased Smith, who then submitted to the buccal swab. [more inside]
The FCC investigated a pirate radio station in Boulder, Colorado earlier this month and left a copy of their official inspection policy asserting that they have the authority to perform warrantless searches of private property if there is any FCC-licensed equipment on the property, including cordless phones, cell phones, wireless routers, intercom systems, and baby monitors. [more inside]
Plainclothes police serving a drug warrant defend killing an elderly woman in the roughest neighborhood in Atlanta. Perhaps it’s a flaw in the exclusionary rule. Or perhaps “had she been without her precious gun, she’d no doubt be alive today”
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-3 decision (.pdf) that police may not search a home if any inhabitant of the home is present and objects to the search, even if another inhabitant consents. The Court drew what it acknowledged is a “fine line” – if a co-inhabitant is at the door and objects, the police can’t enter; but if the co-inhabitant is somewhere else – even in a nearby police car – and has no opportunity to object, then police don’t need his or her consent. Chief Justice Roberts issued his first written dissent, blasting the majority’s “random” and “arbitrary” rule and suggesting that the ability of police to respond to domestic violence threats could be compromised. The zingers in the footnotes may reveal “strains behind the surface placidity and collegiality of the young Roberts court.”
Are we witnessing the end of the 4th Ammendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure? The United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled (parts 1 and 2) that police in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.
The ACLU wants to protect your privacy from government electronic surveillance programs like Echelon and Carnivore. Their full page ad in today's NYT claims 4th amendment rights are being violated by the US government, which is overstepping their bounds, and nearly free of up-to-date laws. Is it to late or can anything be done to protect civilian electronic communication?