Constitutional Rights

Con·sti·tu·tio·nal Rights: Rights and freedoms derived from the people themselves and protected primarily by the enumerated amendments to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights.. Posts in this category pertain to legal, political, and philosophical matters regarding Constitutional rights.

Missouri Rescinds Terrorism-Militia Report

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Missouri

Under intense pressure of citizen outrage, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has rescinded the MIAC report that linked the threat of domestic terrorism to the modern militia movement, conservative political beliefs, and (right-wing) third-party political candidates.

From the KC Star report:

The Missouri Highway Patrol this week retracted a controversial report on militia activity and will change how such reports are reviewed before being distributed to law enforcement agencies.

The Highway Patrol also will open an investigation into the origin of the report, which linked conservative groups with domestic terrorism and named former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin.

The Highway Patrol’s announcement followed a news conference in which Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, suggested putting the director of public safety on administrative leave and investigating how the report was produced.

More 'sphere coverage: Lew Rockwell, St. Louis Council of Conservative Citizens, Doctor Bulldog, AnnaZ, The Blue Eye View, Webster's Blogspot, WorldNetDaily, Visionary Womanhood

(H/T: Drudge, Lucianne)

George Orwell’s Missouri

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Missouri

Scary; truly scary.

Via Gateway Pundit (with h/t to American Thinker), the Missouri Information Analysis Center - part of the Missouri State Police - has compiled a report ostensibly intended "to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists". According to this report, yours truly now fits the profile of a potential extremist.

Here is a PDF scan of the report: The Modern Militia Movement

So what are my issues with this report? First, the report conflates the so-called "militia movement" with both "right-wing" ideology and domestic terrorism; second, the report socially and politically profiles potential terrorists according to its conflation of the "militia movement" and domestic terrorism. In so doing, the report libels and falsely accuses innocent Americans as being potential terrorists.

The report indicates that, at its peak, the "militia movement" included some 850 groups; yet, it identifies only 10 "noteworthy" militia events between 1995 and 1999, 8 "noteworthy" militia events between 2000 and 2008, and indicates that only 60 "rightwing extremist" plots were uncovered between 1995 and 2005.

Clearly, such plots represent not the mainstream of such groups, but rather the extreme. Therefore, the conflation of the "militia movement" with any risk of domestic terrorism is clearly unjustified. Thus, the report doesn't even have standing for the specious correlation-causation profiling of militia members as potential terrorists.

By comparison, compare the 60 militia plots uncovered between 1995 and 2005 with worldwide Islamic terrorism since September 11, 2001:

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

(Further diminishing the report's faulty conflation, two of the "noteworthy" incidents aren't applicable: the 1996 bombing of Atlanta Olympic Park by lone-acting Eric Rudolph, and the 2008 mailing of anti-New World Order propaganda to National Guard/Reserve facilities, with which the report fabricates a whole-cloth connection to hoax-anthrax mailings to state governors' offices.)

The report then proceeds to detail various "militia" causes and ideologies as potential motivators, as well as training and communication/recruitment methods.

  • Causes include ammunition registration, the potential economic collapse of the US, a possible Constitutional convention, national sovereignty (a "North American Union", and presumably NWO), a compulsory national service program, and mandated human RFID.
  • Ideologies include Christian Identity, White Nationalist, Sovereign Citizen, militant anti-abortionism, tax resistors, and anti-(illegal-) immigration.
  • Training methods of the "militia movement" include Military Simulation training and survival training.
  • Means of communications implicated include short-wave radio, internet (forums, groups, blogs, social networking sites, websites), and talk radio, and various recruitment venues including gun shows.

The report goes on to describe the various organizational methods of the militia, and in so doing, implies that even the most open and public of militias that claim to exist solely to assist local law enforcement and service organizations act to encourage underground and otherwise subversive activity.

Then, under "Implications for Law Enforcement", the report states that all militia organizations operate under a "Law Enforcement is the Enemy" philosophy.

Then, perhaps most chilling of all, the report identifies various symbols and forms of political speech associated with the militia:

Political Paraphernalia: Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.

Anti-Government Propaganda: Militia members commonly display picture, cartoons, bumper stickers taht contain anti-government rhetoric. Most of this material will depict the FRS, IRS, FBI, ATF, CIA, UN, Law Enforcement, and "The New World Order" in a derogatory manor (sic). Additionally, Racial, anti-immigration, and anti-abortion, material may be displayed by militia members.

Militia Symbols: Gadsden Flag [ed: "Don't Tread On Me"]: created by General Christopher Gadsden and utilized in colonial America. This is the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations.

Literature and Media Common to the Militia: Zeitgeist the Movie and America: Freedom to Fascism.

Interestingly, note that the report includes the UN and NWO as organizations subject to "anti-government propaganda", as well as racist, anti-(illegal-)immigration, and anti-abortion material.

Throughout, the report belies an obvious left-wing bias. (Note the ample references to "right-wing", the mis-identification of anti-illegal-immigration beliefs as "anti-immigration", and the report relies heavily upon information from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).) The report also falsely associates all causes and ideologies, universally, to "right-wing" extremists. In fact, the socialist and anti-semitic beliefs of the referenced White Nationalist group are clearly left-wing ideologies.

Most critically, this report to law enforcement has conflated many perfectly innocent and inherently constitutionally protected viewpoints with the terrorist actions of some extremist militia groups, putting adherents of those viewpoints at risk by endangering their relationship and interaction with law enforcement.

To the extent that this report is internalized by Missouri Law Enforcement, lawful militia members will be assumed "armed and dangerous", and innocent Missouri citizens will be (at a minimum) under suspicion simply for exercising their constitutionally protected rights with respect to various social and political causes.

More on the report: Smoking Argus Daily, Lucianne, Libertoad, Bob McCarty, Justbkuz, Bungalow Bill (with a follow-up), Kayak2U, Rip On Politics, Lew Rockwell, Red Pills, Right Side News (will update to add more as I find them).

Nancy Pelosi: Un-American

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Democrats

These statements should be an impeachable offense - or at the very least, subject to Congressional censure:

Via Lucianne and Michelle Malkin, Nancy Pelosi tells a partially illegal-immigrant comprised crowd that enforcement of US immigration laws is "un-American":

"Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families?" Pelosi told a mostly Hispanic gathering at St. Anthony's Church in San Francisco.

"It must be stopped....What value system is that? I think it's un-American. I think it's un-American."


Referring to work site enforcement actions by ICE agents, Pelosi said, "We have to have a change in policy and practice and again ... I can't say enough, the raids must end. The raids must end.

And to add insult to injury, Pelosi called those who are in our country illegally patriotic:

"You are special people. You're here on a Saturday night to take responsibility for our country's future. That makes you very, very patriotic."

And no, the claim that these statements should be an impeachable offense are not hyperbole. Please refer to the Congressional Oath of Office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Calling enforcement of duly enacted Federal law "un-American", and actively calling for that enforcement to be stopped, is clearly dereliction of duty for a US Representative, and clearly demonstrates a failure to uphold the oath of office to which that Representative has sworn.

Nancy Pelosi: you are un-American.

Colorado Legislature Tries to Vote Away State Soverignty

Filed in PoliticsTags: Constitutional Rights, Democrats, Elections

Apparently, our education system has been dumbed-down sufficiently that the entire concept of our country's founding as a federation of sovereign states is becoming lost.

Via Lucianne, the Colorado House passed legislation that would award the state's electoral-college votes not to the state's popular-vote winner, but rather to the national popular-vote winner:

Currently, whoever wins most of the country's 538 electoral votes becomes president. Under Tuesday's bill, Colorado would send its nine electoral votes to the winner of the most popular votes nationally.

"Basically, whoever receives the most votes for president in all 50 states should become president," said the sponsor, Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood.

Basically, Andy Kerr is an idiot, and has no business holding elected office. Basically, Andy Kerr needs to go back to school and take a basic American History/Civics course.

Though, I have to imagine that the people of Colorado won't look too kindly on having their votes for President completely ignored.

The last paragraph in the article belies the underlying motivation for such legislation:

Had the scheme been in place in 2000, Colorado would have sent its electoral votes to Al Gore, who won the national popular vote, even though the majority of Colorado voters chose George W. Bush.

Apparently, some Democrats are still trying to get Al Gore elected in the 2000 presidential race.

Congress Considering Obama Youth Legislation

Filed in PoliticsTags: Constitutional Rights, Democrats

It's coming: the Hitler Obama Youth program.

Via Lucianne, the US House Education and Labor Committee moved the GIVE Act legislation, that would, in addition to expanding AmeriCorps, create a "Congressional Commission on Civil Service" [emphasis added]:

The bipartisan commission will be tasked with exploring a number of topics, including "whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation."

I'm waiting for Dear Leader to start sprouting a little moustache any day now.

Ninth Circuit: All Your Laptop Are Belong To Us

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Judiciary

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday reversed a lower court's decision that laptop searches by border agents are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. From the WSJ law blog:

The backstory: In July of 2005, Michael Arnold, who was 43 at the time, was pulled aside for secondary questioning upon arriving at LAX from the Philippines. Customs agents checked out his laptop and, according to the ruling, found “numerous images depicting what they believed to be child pornography.”

Arnold was later charged with possessing and transporting child porn and with traveling to a foreign country with the intention of having sex with children. But lower court Judge Dean Pregerson of Los Angeles suppressed the evidence after finding that customs agents didn’t have reasonable suspicion to search the contents of Arnold’s laptop.

The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion penned by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, reversed on Monday, holding that “reasonable suspicion is not needed for customs officials to search a laptop or other personal electronic storage devices at the border.”

In reading the decision, my initial reaction is that while the conclusion is ultimately wrong (opening files on a laptop without reasonable suspicion is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment, regardless of what precedent rulings exist), the defendant chose an absolutely absurd defense. It is that absurd defense that is the basis of the court's decision.

Arnold based his defense on two arguments: one, that the laptop is an extension of the human body (since it contains data in the same way that the human mind contains ideas) and thus is protected from unreasonable searches, and two, that the laptop is analogous to a person's "home" (due to the capacity of the data storage and thus is protected from undue damage or destruction during a search.

Given the two prongs of this defense, I can understand how the Ninth Circuit would reverse.

I'm no lawyer, but in my opinion, a much more sound defense would have been that viewing personal data without cause or suspicion is an unreasonable search, even at the border. The Ninth Circuit's decision references United States v. Tsai (border searches of briefcases) and United States v. Ickes (border searches of vehicles, and electronic devices contained therein) as precedent that the defendant was not subject to unreasonable search.

Recall the words of the Fourth Amendment:

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.

Apparently, the courts have ruled that "searches made at the border...are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border", under the justification that "...the United Stats, as Sovereign, has the inherent authority to protect, and a paramount interest in protecting, its territorial integrity" (United States v. Flores-Montano). Similarly, the Supreme Court (United States v. Ramsey) has held that:

The authority of the United States to search the baggage of arriving international travelers is based on its inherent sovereign authority to protect its territorial integrity. By reason of that authority, it is entitled to require that whoever seeks entry must establish the right to enter and to bring into the country whatever he may carry.

The issue, however, is that these searches are not appropriately bounded. While it is reasonable for a border agent to require a passenger to turn on a laptop to ensure that all its components are legitimately part of a laptop (e.g. the battery is not actually some sort of bomb), it is in no way reasonable for that border agent to rummage through the files contained on that laptop without reasonable cause.

Essentially, the justification by the courts here is that, since some things are illegal in the US but are legal elsewhere, any traveler could have legally obtained something that is illegal in the US, thus everything is subject to search at the border, and that the search takes place at the border establishes that such searches are reasonable.

Basically, this justification completely guts the Fourth Amendment. It is as if the courts are saying, "check your Constitution at the border."

Arnold should have challenged the unconstitutionally broad application of conferring reasonableness on searches simply by virtue of their occurrence at a border entry.

Another reasonable argument would have been the court's equation of a laptop to a traveler's luggage. The contents of luggage is in no way inherently analogous to the contents of a laptop (or of an MP3 player, a digital camera, or camcorder).

Oh, and as others have said: TrueCrypt. Either encrypt your entire drive, or put all private data inside an encrypted partition. If the courts won't uphold the Fourth Amendment, then perhaps the Fifth Amendment will still apply, and you'll still be protected from being forced to divulge your password for your encrypted data.

Volokh Conspiracy has a lot of interesting commentary. Dailybreeze also covers the story.

(H/T: PCWorld)