I’ve already written once this week about the really stunning arguments the State is making to completely erode Fourth Amendment protections. And now, via John Wesley Hall, I see evidence that at least one state – North Carolina again – has gone completely batshit insane when it comes to the application of the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
So where we left off in that last post was that the police need particularized suspicion that a person is committing or has committed a crime in order to stop them for investigatory purposes. What I mentioned peripherally is that this applies to motor vehicles as well (Terry v. Ohio). What I didn’t mention is that the United States Supreme Court has explicitly held that two types of detentions of motor vehicles without particularized suspicion are okay: 1) DUI checkpoints (Michigan v. Sitz) and 2) stops where the purpose is not to investigate the person stopped but general investigation and information gathering (Illinois v. Lidster).
The rationale of both these cases is that these are not unreasonable intrusions into the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment and that the minor inconvenience suffered by motorists pales in comparison to the overriding concerns of society: preventing drunk driving and catching criminals. [The Fourth Amendment provides that all people shall be free from unreasonable searches and seizures...]
The Supreme Court did set out some rules, however, in Michigan v. Sitz (the CT case is State v. Mikolinski): that
just as the Terry standard protects an individual’s freedom from arbitrary police conduct by requiring that a seizure “be based on specific, objective facts indicating that society’s legitimate interests require the seizure of the particular individual”; id.; so does the requirement “that the seizure must be carried out pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers.” Id.
Mikolinski. See also Delaware v. Prouse. So now, on to North Carolina. In State v. Kevin Griffin [PDF], the North Carolina Supreme Court has just held that a stop of a motor vehicle is legal under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution where the only thing the motor vehicle did was turn around near a checkpoint.
Kevin Griffin was driving down a road, saw a checkpoint, made a legal turn away from the checkpoint and then was stopped by police officers.
Their reasonable and articulable suspicion that Kevin Griffin had committed or was committing a crime? That he turned away from the checkpoint.
Q. But he just made a left turn; is that correct?
A. Onto the shoulder, yes.
Q. That’s not an illegal turn; is it?
A. A left turn is not an illegal turn.
Q. And you never gave him a moving violation for that; did you not?
The police state is here, folks. You will do what we tell you to do, otherwise you’re a criminal. This is the logical extension of those “search me, I’ve got nothing to hide” attitudes. A completely legal act – the left turn – is now evidence of a crime. “Sure we’ll search you and if you don’t let us, we’ll use that as evidence that you, in fact, do have something to hide.”
What’s next? Refusing to talk to a police officer on the street will now be sufficient evidence that you’ve got something to hide? So would it be okay then for the police to go up to people for no reason and start asking them incriminating questions? And if you refuse, well, then, you must be guilty of something, because only guilty people refuse to co-operate with the police and submit to their authority.
When we start giving up our rights in the name of security, they keep taking those rights. And then they’ll take every last scrap of freedom you have left and then you’re left staring at decisions where a man was suspected of committing a crime solely on the basis of a perfectly legal action.
We might as well just give up the ghost on this Fourth Amendment and install surveillance cameras in our houses and cars and workplaces because what is the point of having all this freedom? Wouldn’t it just be easier to let the Government have whatever it wants, hey as long as we’re not criminals, right?
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.