Scott Ritsema
January 15, 2008

The "conservatives" on the Supreme Court have again voted in favor of big government and against liberty. They have ruled against the Fourth Amendment and in favor of the police state. (See AP report and USA Today report, "Supreme Court OKs Use of Evidence from Illegal Search.")

For years, the courts have rightly refused to convict somebody based upon evidence that was obtained through an illegal, unconstitutional search. A legal search obeys the Fourth Amendment, which requires the search to be based upon probable cause and backed up by a warrant. The courts have gotten this one right over the years, refusing to accept evidence in court that failed to meet the criteria for a legitimate search. This way, law enforcement had an incentive to obey the Constitution, and do proper searches, rather than illegal searches.

But no more. The Fourth Amendment has been effectively repealed. Now, any the time that law enforcement makes a "mistake" that prevents them from doing a proper search, they will get away with it, and the evidence can be admitted into the court proceedings. The incentive to do the search in a legal fashion has now been removed; instead, and an incentive to do illegal searches and then say "oops" has now been introduced.

What is particularly astounding is that the reasoning of the majority had nothing to do with fidelity to the Constitution. As USA Today reports, "The Roberts majority focused on the societal costs of excluding drugs and other evidence seized." Where did the Supreme Court derive the authority to rule based upon the perceived social costs and benefits of their decision? Aren't these judges? …And aren't judges supposed to interpret the law and rule based upon the Constitution? Or are they legislators now?

Conservatives rightly gripe about liberals who legislate from the bench. But they need to look in the mirror: "conservatives" have just legislated from the bench, and in doing so, have giving another tool to the police state. They have made it that much easier for the state to act in a lawless manner, further stripping the people of their individual liberties.


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