Two Important 4th Amendment Cases Upcoming for the Supreme Court

Two cases involving drug dogs are on the Supreme Court docket which could either further shred the 4th Amendment or help in reestablishing some of its safeguards to American citizens.  The 4th Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure.  Mainly thanks to the war on drugs, the 4th Amendment has been shredded beyond recognition by the courts.  The police basically act as if it no longer exists.

Florida V. Jardines concerns the police bringing a drug dog up to the front door of a single family private residence to check for illegal activity, without a warrant.  This is basically a pretty cut and dry case.  Either you see it as the police being free to go wherever the public can go, or you see it as the police using the dog to conduct an illegal search of the private residence.  Precedent is mixed in this case and the court could go either way.

Florida V. Harris is probably the more important case, concerning whether an alert by a trained drug dog is sufficient probable cause to search a vehicle.  Recent studies have raised serious question into the accuracy of drug dogs. If 7 of 8 drug dogs give false positives during a double blind trial, is it reasonable to claim their alerts are always probable cause?

Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture War has a post looking at these cases, and there is a preview of both over at The Volokh Conspiracy.  Just a few cases to keep your eye on.

And yes, Obama is a joke on 4th Amendment issues.

Wait….What? Really?

As the heads of those on the right continue to explode over Chief Justice Roberts deciding vote in the health care case, wingnut shock jock Michael Savage has it all figured out.  From the Daily Kos:

If you’re like me, you had no idea batshit insane right-wing radio host Michael Savage was still alive. I naturally assumed that by now his desiccated remains had been found on the floor of some rural Montana bunker, diary still in hand, with his last thoughts on intricate political conspiracies coordinated by moon men, vampires and Freddie Mercury written in blood on every page. But no—apparently he still has a radio show. And his theories about why Justice John Roberts betrayed all of conservatism might actually become a thing:

“Let’s talk about Roberts. I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to hear anywhere else, that you must pay attention to. It’s well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’ writings you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying.”

Got that?  Chief Justice Roberts:  Too hopped up on epilepsy meds to know the law.


And just as an aside;  Once again, although I am hopeful that this victory will be a boon for Obama in the coming election, I myself have serious issues with the law as written.  The Volokh Conspiracy  has many postings on the constitutional issues with the bill.  Hop over and check a few out.

One Small Step….

Ah, the lovely world of prosecutorial  misconduct.  Anyone interested in the failure that is the War on Drugs, death penalty cases, or hell, the legal system in general is familiar with prosecutorial misconduct.  Unfortunately, we have a justice system where prosecutors have immunity.  Immunity from prosecution, but not anonymity, thanks to the 9th circuit.

From The Volokh Conspiracy

[U]pon initial release of this opinion, the government filed a motion requesting that we remove Albert’s name and replace it with references to “the prosecutor.” The motion contended that naming Albert publicly is inappropriate given that we do not yet know the outcome of any potential investigations or disciplinary proceedings. We declined to adopt the government’s suggestion and denied its motion. We have noticed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona regularly makes public the names of prosecutors who do good work and win important victories. E.g., Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, “Northern Arizona Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Arson,” (January 31, 2012) (“The prosecution was handled by Christina J. Reid-Moore, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix”), available at If federal prosecutors receive public credit for their good works — as they should — they should not be able to hide behind the shield of anonymity when they make serious mistakes.

United States v. Lopez-Avila (9th Cir. amended Feb. 14):