Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kangaroo Court

Appeals Court: Gov't Has Right To Track You With GPS

Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.

The rogue, criminal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which Savage calls the Ninth Jerk-it Court of Schlameels, has just ruled that the government has the right to invade your property, secretly place a GPS tracking device on your vehicle, then covertly track your movements, invading your privacy. But it's worse than that, because the court carved out an exception -- rich people who live behind fences and gates will not be subject to such intrusion, because the physical barriers they can afford to erect surrounding their property create a reasonable expectation of privacy. But you and I have no such protection, so, as the court ruled, if deliverymen and postal workers can walk up to your driveway, so can the FBI:

The judges veered into offensiveness when they explained why Pineda-Moreno's driveway was not private. It was open to strangers, they said, such as delivery people and neighborhood children, who could wander across it uninvited. (See the misadventures of the CIA.)

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.

This ruling, at least in the states affected by the Ninth's decision, effectively ends the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No more rights for the poor people who live under the thumb of this collection of vermin who call themselves jurists. This decision is an outrage and the people of California and the other states within their jurisdiction should be picketing the courthouse. But I doubt we will see any sort of meaningful protest because the government and media have been getting us slowly used to the continual erosion of our rights. The Constitution is dead, long live the Constitution.

Plenty of liberals have objected to this kind of spying, but it is the conservative Chief Judge Kozinski who has done so most passionately. "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last," he lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell's totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: "Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we're living in Oceania."

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