“American taxpayers pay to be spied upon. That’s one takeaway from new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has been examining how federal agents spent millions to purchase massive troves of cellphone location data and dodge Fourth Amendment requirements.
As part of a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the ACLU obtained thousands of previously unreleased records showing how DHS agencies—including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—are purchasing and accessing “huge volumes of people’s cell phone location information quietly extracted from smartphone apps.”
These agencies are “sidestepping our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable government searches and seizures,” suggests the ACLU.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held (in Carpenter v. United States) that under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement must have a warrant before accessing a suspect’s phone location data from cellular service providers. But federal authorities have been getting around this by purchasing aggregated cellphone location data from data broker firms like Venntel and Babel Street. And they’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars doing it.”
“The bill does not suggest that those whose assets are seized must be linked to—let alone convicted of—any crime. Rather, it states that the Biden administration shall “determine the constitutional mechanisms through which the President can take steps to seize and confiscate assets under the jurisdiction of the United States” of any foreign person on whom the president has imposed sanctions due to their links to Putin’s regime.
Nor does it require that sanctions and asset seizure be linked to corruption; political “support for” the Putin administration is enough.
Of course, in a country like Russia, where dissidence can be punished gravely, support may be a matter of (economic and sometimes literal) survival. Is it really fair for the U.S. to punish people for this?
Alas, a lot of legislators think so. The Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act passed the House by a vote of 417–8 on Thursday.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) was one of just eight “no” votes on the measure.
“This vote asked President Biden to violate the 4th Amendment, seize private property, and determine where it would go – all without due process,” AOC said in a statement. “This sets a risky new precedent in the event of future Presidents who may seek to abuse that expansion of power, especially with so many of our communities already fighting civil asset forfeiture.”
It’s a very valid concern—and the kind all too rare among lawmakers and among political partisans more broadly.”
“In 2019, a California appeals court said a police officer may always enter a suspect’s home without a warrant if the officer is in “hot pursuit” and has probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a misdemeanor.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court gave that decision the benchslap it deserved. “We are not eager—more the reverse—to print a new permission slip for entering the home without a warrant,” declared Justice Elena Kagan in Lange v. California.
The case originated when a California Highway Patrol officer observed Arthur Gregory Lange repeatedly honking his horn and playing his car stereo at a loud volume, both of which are traffic infractions at worst. The officer followed Lange’s car and switched on his overhead lights just a few seconds before Lange pulled into his own driveway. Lange, who said he never saw the officer’s lights in his rearview mirror, entered his driveway and pulled into his garage. The officer parked, exited his vehicle, stuck his foot under the garage door to prevent it from closing, followed Lange in, and had him perform field sobriety tests, which ultimately led to a DUI charge.
The state has “argued that the pursuit of a suspected misdemeanant always qualifies as an exigent circumstance authorizing a warrantless home entry,” Kagan observed in her majority opinion, which was joined in full by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. But that position ran afoul of both SCOTUS precedent and the Fourth Amendment’s common law roots.
“On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter—to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home,” Kagan wrote. “But when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so—even though the misdemeanant fled.”
The common law origins of the Fourth Amendment commanded the same result. “‘To enter a man’s house’ without a proper warrant, Lord Chief Justice Pratt proclaimed in 1763, is to attack ‘the liberty of the subject’ and ‘destroy the liberty of the kingdom,'” Kagan wrote, quoting from a venerable British common law judgment. “That was the idea behind the Fourth Amendment.”
Writing in a concurrence that reads more like a dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, denounced the majority’s reasoning as “absurd and dangerous,” “hopelessly indeterminate,” and likely to impede necessary police work.
Fortunately, Roberts managed to attract just one other vote. The Fourth Amendment had a good day in court.”
“The question thus becomes whether Plaintiff’s disclosure that he had a pistol in the car coupled with presentation of a facially valid, but not yet verified, permit can “arguably” constitute probable cause to believe that he was unlawfully possessing a weapon in his vehicle. An assessment of arguable probable cause requires consideration of the statute Defendant believed Plaintiff might be violating.
Connecticut General Statutes § 29-38(a) makes the absence of a permit while possessing a firearm inside a vehicle an element of the offense, meaning that there needed to have been some evidence indicating the probability that Plaintiff was not licensed to possess a firearm in order to suspect that he had committed the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in a vehicle. But at no time did Defendant have any reasonable suspicion or actual knowledge of Plaintiff’s possession of the firearm without simultaneously knowing that Plaintiff demonstrated that he had an apparently valid firearm permit.
Indeed, it is undisputed that Plaintiff told Defendant that he had a pistol in the driver’s side door compartment at the time he handed his driver’s license and pistol permit to Defendant. And in his deposition, Plaintiff stated that when he handed his license and permit to Defendant, he said, “That’s my license and including [sic] my pistol permit, I have a pistol on me.” In the absence of any articulable reason for Defendant to believe the permit was counterfeit or otherwise invalid, there is no indication that Plaintiff was even arguably unlawfully possessing a firearm.
In light of the uncontested fact that Plaintiff presented his pistol permit to Defendant before or at the time he disclosed that he was in possession of a pistol and the absence of any other indicia that Plaintiff was otherwise violating the statute, no reasonable officer could believe probable cause was present. Any contrary holding “would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals” by presuming a license expressly permitting possession of a firearm was invalid. To accept Defendant’s reasoning would permit police officers to detain any driver because he or she may have a counterfeit or otherwise invalid driver’s license which has been rejected by the Supreme Court.
Because, on the record read in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable police officer could have believed he or she had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, the Court denies summary judgment on the lawfulness of the de facto arrest”
“Imagine, for example, that a police officer randomly opens fire on two innocent bystanders, with no justification whatsoever for doing so. One of those bystanders is struck in the arm and successfully flees; the other is struck in the leg and thus is unable to escape the officer.
Under Roberts’s rule, both of these bystanders could bring a Fourth Amendment suit against the officer. But under Gorsuch’s rule, only the person struck in the leg could do so. Whatever the framers intended to accomplish when they drafted the Fourth Amendment, it’s hard to imagine that they wanted to write such an arbitrary distinction into the Constitution.”
“practical effect of Torres…means that officers who use excessive force can be subject to Fourth Amendment suits, even if the plaintiff in that suit successfully escaped the officer.”
“In an important win for Fourth Amendment advocates, a Virginia man’s arrest for refusing to show identification to the police has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appellate court.”
” “To be sure, officers may always request someone’s identification during a voluntary encounter,” the court said. “But they may not compel it by threat of criminal sanction. Allowing a county to criminalize a person’s silence outside the confines of a valid seizure would press our conception of voluntary encounters beyond its logical limits. We therefore decline to do so here.”
If Wingate had been lawfully detained by the police, the 4th Circuit said, then the officer could require him to show ID. But that was not what happened here.”