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Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chief justice comes in strong off bench

Lecture mixes history lesson, judicial principle, predictions for future and salute to Jayhawks

May 1, 2008

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Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. addresses a capacity crowd at the Lied Center. Roberts on Wednesday gave the 40th lecture in the Vickers Memorial Lecture Series.

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. addresses a capacity crowd at the Lied Center. Roberts on Wednesday gave the 40th lecture in the Vickers Memorial Lecture Series.

John Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, used the 205th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase to argue that individuals who are lawyers or who have good business sense - or preferably both - have the opportunity to alter the course of a nation.

In a Vickers Lecture on Wednesday before a full house at Kansas University's Lied Center, Roberts told how the events leading up to April 30, 1803, altered American history forever. Appropriately, though, being a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Roberts explained some of the concerns that then-President Thomas Jefferson raised about whether he had the constitutional power to make the agreement.

"The Supreme Court rules 25 years later that the Constitution confers on the government of the Union the powers of making war and making treaties," Roberts said.

Roberts, who sprinkled his speech on the Louisiana Purchase with jokes, concluded with a line tailored to his audience.

"If the treaty had fallen through, imagine how different the world would be," he said, referring to French ownership of the Louisiana Purchase territory. "Imagine a Kansas cookout with berets instead of ball caps, beef bourguignonne instead of barbecue and fans yelling 'Vive les Jayhawks.'"

The last line drew a hearty round of applause, and a lively question and answer period followed the 30-minute speech.

Adam Davis, a third-year law student, quoted Justice Antonin Scalia in calling the U.S. Constitution "dead" and asked Roberts what he thought of the Constitution. The question earned a loud round of applause.

In a recent interview for the CBS program "60 Minutes," Scalia said he opposed the concept of the Constitution as a living document whose meaning changes as times and judges' values change.

"Legal documents don't live or die," Roberts said. "It's a piece of paper. It's the most important piece of paper in our nation's history, but it's not helpful to think of it as living or dead."

Roberts springboarded from that answer to deliver his point on the "great danger" of judicial activism - a theme he returned to in later questions as well.

"I'm sure the Framers would have never agreed that this document could be changed by the one branch of government that was not elected that cannot be removed," Roberts said. "There's a way to change it, but it's not by judicial decision."

In response to another question, Roberts said he expected the greatest challenge for the Supreme Court in the next 25 years to deal with the changes brought about by technological advancement.

"We've developed a whole body of law about when you can search a house, when you have to knock and when you can just break down the door," Roberts said. "And then along comes science and you can see through the walls. It's a very challenging balance."

Davis posed another difficult question when given his second opportunity, asking Roberts specifically how he viewed the role of checks and balances between the judicial and executive branches.

And while Roberts heartily advocated for checks and balances, he avoided making any comments on the current executive branch and President George W. Bush.

Law School Dean Gail Agrawal said she appreciated the way Roberts answered every question.

"I think the students asked some tough questions. The thoughtful way he answered each question taught (law students) a lot," she said. "I think hearing him will certainly inspire law students."

Roberts' two-day trip to KU - the first ever by a sitting chief justice - was jointly coordinated by the business and law schools. He will speak with a variety of students and classes today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

Brandon Deines 6 years, 7 months ago

That speech last night was boring. People were falling asleep during the junior high history lesson. I am as impressed as anyone that the Chief Justice is here, but last night's lecture was almost wholly without substance, and the Q & A that followed was a puff piece.

supercowbellninja 6 years, 7 months ago

Is it just me, or does the headline on this story make it sound like Roberts is a designated hitter or something?

Eride 6 years, 7 months ago

This lecture was amazing, we are so lucky to get the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to come to KU. It was very informative and at times quite entertaining!

greenworld 6 years, 7 months ago

Who were the people outside before hand holding up signs in protest of fags? Dont tell me it was the Phelps people from Topeka.

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 7 months ago

Of course we know that the land "purchased" in the Louisiana Purchase did not actually belong to France but the native people were certainly considered a minor road block in the westward push and lawyers can come up with convenient words to make it all seems "right'. Lawyers then and lawyers now are all the same bag of cats. I have little use for cats.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

"he gave a very dangerous answer regarding how the constitution is interpreted - alllowing that amendments could be made by the legislative branch to the enumerated rights - then enforced by the executive & the judiciary."Pointing out the most fundamental aspect of our Constitutional system is not a "dangerous answer." That's not Constitutional interpretation. It's 5th grade civics. I'm sorry if you're just now realizing this. I'm sorry if the system disturbs you. I'm certain that 40 million descendants of freed slaves, or the 100+ million eligible women voters would disagree with you.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

genius,Unfortunately, the changes to our fundamental concepts can also cut in the opposite direction - ie. anti-gay-marriage amendments.Scalia's comment about legislation being the way to changes things skirts the issue (as does Roberts) - isn't it the function of the Supreme Court to determine when legislation is unconstitutional?In that vein, this court just ruled that evidence obtained from an illegal search is admissable - seems like an "unreasonable search and seizure" to me. Why aren't they following that line of thought?

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

geniusmannumber1 (Anonymous) says: "Pointing out the most fundamental aspect of our Constitutional system is not a "dangerous answer." That's not Constitutional interpretation. It's 5th grade civics."Correct, and the fact that so many citizens/voters misunderstand the most fundemental structure of the US Government it should send shivers down your spine. The good news is when Roberts responded; "I'm sure the Framers would have never agreed that this document could be changed by the one branch of government that was not elected that cannot be removed.There's a way to change it, but it's not by judicial decision," he recieved his largest applause. When the Cheif Justice of the US Supreme Court delivered his point on the "great danger" of judicial activism and it is well received by the sold out audience in Looney Lawrence Kansas, all hope is not lost.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

My comment was directed toward the notion that it is somehow "dangerous" for a supreme court justice to suggest that the constitution function as designed.And no, change coming through legislation doesn't skirt any issue. The function of the judiciary is not to legislate. It is not to suggest to the legislature what they should do. It is not to mold our laws and society in the manner in which they see fit. In small part, the judiciary exists to determine when the legislature has crossed a certain line. The majority of the job is to interpret confusing, ambiguous, or contradictory federal laws."this court just ruled that evidence obtained from an illegal search is admissable - seems like an "unreasonable search and seizure" to me"I am not certain to what case you are referring. I can guarantee you that the Supreme Court has never made such a ruling without a good deal of qualification. And surely you have a better definition of "unreasonable" than "things I think are unreasonable"?

smerdyakov 6 years, 7 months ago

Listening to the vapid pre-selected questions I couldn't help but think about Roberts' joke earlier regarding the differences between D.C. and the Kremlin. We may have free speech in this country, but carefully crafted events like this more closely resemble propaganda a la the Kremlin, China, North Korea et al than the discourse of a healthy democracy. Yeah, yeah... he's a Supreme Court justice who isn't obliged to answer anybody's questions. So don't have a "Q&A" session under the pretense that "cases currently under review are the only topics I can't discuss" (as Roberts said). Puh-lease..A more pointed article on the event:http://www.lawrence.com/blogs/rogue_scarlet/2008/apr/30/roberts/

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and the last recourse for those attempting to challenge legislation which is unconstitutional.What skirts the issue are Roberts' and Scalia's comments about the legislature without any comment about the Supreme Court's role in overturning unconstitutional legislation.The decision is a recent one by this Supreme Court - a man was stopped by police while driving, found to have a suspended driver's license. In the state (I believe it was Virginia), the correct procedure is to issue a citation and let the driver go. Instead the police arrested and searched the driver, during which search they found drugs.The courts in Virginia, including the Supreme Court, found the drugs inadmissable and threw them out. The US Supreme Court found them admissable.The question of "reasonable" searches is obviously open to interpretation and personal points of view. I view this search as "unreasonable", which the courts and Supreme Court in Virginia apparently would agree with.When justices on the US Supreme Court take the view that the Constitution should not be interpreted, they take an impossible view. Their decision on this case was clearly influenced by their interpretation of "unreasonable".

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

It's like fundamentalist Christians who claim they aren't "interpreting" the Bible, but pick and choose which verses to select and follow.

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says: "Scalia's comment about legislation being the way to changes things skirts the issue (as does Roberts) - isn't it the function of the Supreme Court to determine when legislation is unconstitutional?"No, the way to change the law is to get the Legistlature to pass the Bill and then the President to sign the law, both are accountable to the voters. If SCOTUS determines the law to be unconstitutional, it is up to those very same branches to either modify the law to meet the Supreme Courts scrutiny or to modify the Constitution.jafs (Anonymous) says: "In that vein, this court just ruled that evidence obtained from an illegal search is admissable - seems like an "unreasonable search and seizure" to me. Why aren't they following that line of thought?"Because not everything you "feel" or "think" is unconstitutional is. The truth you don't know can't hurt you near as much as what you belive is truth that simply isn't.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

"cool (Anonymous) says:again, Roberts seems indeed dangerous - leaving open the door to changes to 'fundamental rights' of the constitution by amendment (isn't that what he said ?).so, we could have 'less rights' if the legislature and a dumb & dumber populace voted for 'less rights'.."Yes! Yes! You get it! That's called "the American system of government!" Again, you should have learned this in elementary school!

Joel 6 years, 7 months ago

Here's part of what I wrote in the readerblogs section of LJWorld.com:But here's the interesting part: Jefferson didn't think he had the Constitutional authority to negotiate the purchase. Before his presidency, Roberts said, Jefferson had bitterly opposed the Jay Treaty governing relations between the United States and Britain because he thought treaty-making power was limited only to peace treaties. And he proposed amending the Constitution to allow the purchase. Madison took a broader view of the Constitution, and worried the deal might collapse if it had to wait on approval of a new amendment, convinced Jefferson the effort was sound."Sometimes the best deals are lost if the lawyers take too long," Roberts said, endorsing the work of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Livingston. Jefferson, he said, "was a good CEO."And that was pretty much the speech. Which leaves us with two ways of looking at Roberts' views of American history: That America was blessed to have a president who could get advice that conflicted with his own opinions and allow himself to be persuaded for the good of the country. Which, yes, it would be nice to have a president like that.Or: That America was blessed to have a president who, when push came to shove, was willing to ignore his own views of the Constitution in order to create an empire.And if that's what Roberts believes: Uh-oh.

63BC 6 years, 7 months ago

To be boring is not a sin for a judge. Elections are supposed to be lively so people can govern themselves. Judges are supposed to be dry and boring.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

Regarding Virginia v. Moore (the case you're referring to):First, this was a unanimous decision (with one concurring opinion.) This is not a remotely controversial case.The crux of the case is that whether the arrest is legal under state law was irrelevant. Viriginia state law, by requiring a citation for driving while suspended, arguably provides greater protection against unreasonable searches and seizures than does the 4th Amendment. Which is perfectly allowable. However, that wasn't the issue in this case The Virginia Supreme Court held that the arrest/seizure violated the Federal constitution, not state law.The Supreme Court will not interpret state law unless the Constitutionality of that law is challenged. That wasn't the case here. The case is solely about whether the search was reasonable under the Federal Constitution.And so the Court fell back on 50-60 years of 4th Amendment jurisprudence (an era, it might be noted, during which the Court developed nearly everything we would consider to be "rights" of the criminally accused -- Miranda rights, the notion of the reasonable expectation of privacy, etc.). They asked the same questions they've always asked: 1. Did they have probable cause for arrest? Yes. They arrested him for driving while suspended. His license was, in fact, suspended.2. Was the search reasonable? Yes. Whether a search is reasonable involves balancing the interests of the individual and legitimate governmental interests. When an officer has probable cause to make an arrest, he has an interest in a) preserving any evidence, and b) (and this is hugely, hugely important) to preserve his own safety.Thus the arrest did not implicate 4th Amendment rights. If you have issues with the way the state of Virginia conducts its own business, according to its own laws, you may have a legitimate gripe. But you can't lay that at the feet of the US Supreme Court. Again, this is not a remotely controversial decision.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

Cool, you just don't get it. These "fundamental" (or "unenumerated", or whatever term you choose to call them) rights exist solely as the result of judicial decisions, who have found that certain rights are implied by rights that are specifically enumerated by the Constitution. Let's take, for example, something relatively non-controversial: the right to interstate travel. The Supreme Court has held that this is a fundamental right, (Edwards v. California, 1941--case was about California's laws intended to restrict "Okies" from entering the state). In Edwards, the majority based this fundamental right on the interstate commerce clause--that an individual state cannot unreasonably restrict the movement of people into a state, as this is an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. The concurring justices came to a similar conclusion, but based on the Privileges and Immunities Clause, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment. But here's the point. A constitutional Amendment could pass revoking the interstate commerce clause, the P&I clause, or the 14th Amendment. Or, an Amendment could pass specifically stating "There is no fundamental right to interstate travel. States are free to restrict travel as they see fit." The Supreme Court wouldn't have a power to declare those hypothetical Amendments unconstitutional--because those hypothetical Amendments would be part of the Constitution.Again, it's the American system. An Amendment could be passed revoking the entire bill of rights. The bill of rights would, therefore, be revoked, and there's nothing the Supreme Court could do about it. I think the fact that the worst thing we've done so far is to outlaw alcohol (and later revoked that) is a testament to the strength of our system in reigning in extremism. But again, to suggest that it is dangerous for a supreme court justice to allow the constitution to function as designed is ludicrous.Joel, however, makes a good point, I think. It's at least something to think about.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

Joel,In regard to your second option, it's worth remembering that Jefferson, in making Constitutional decisions, not only didn't have much or any established doctrine or precedent to fall back on--everybody was pretty much working it out for themselves at that point. This is especially true in light of the fact that nobody knew whose job it was to interpret the constitution at that point--Marbury v. Madison wasn't decided until later that year, and of course the ramifications of that decision were impossible to see until some time down the road. I do share your unease if in fact Roberts 1) sees Jefferson's actions a willingness to bend one's own principals and 2) finds that flexibility admirable. But, and perhaps I'm being charitable, I don't see Jefferson's actions in quite those black and white terms. Additionally, I didn't really construe Roberts' speech as indicative of any statement of principle. I saw it as bland, inoffensive pap. I also assumed he didn't write it himself, but that's more a gut reaction.

Poon 6 years, 7 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says: Roberts is also a reminder that the Supreme Court is not always correct.Bush vs. Gore for example which 'threw' the election of 2000 away from the party with the most popular votes was a wrong decision.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Yes, Gore did win the popular vote nationwide. BUT, if Bush won the popular vote in Florida, then he would have surpassed the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the election.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

But he didn't.On another note, what does that have to do with Roberts?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

As anyone with more than a casual acquaintance with American law can tell you, the popular vote does not determine the winner of Presidential elections. Is there a youtube clip for grade-school civics, cool?

Boeing 6 years, 7 months ago

I've got to agree with the people who say last nights speech was Boring with a capital B. I like history as much as anyone else, probably more, but...the Louisiana Purchase? This is the topic that our Chief Justice chooses to speak about? Are you effing kidding me?Funny to see the Phelps Pholks too.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't know what you mean by "established by legal history." All rights, whether spelled out specifically and literally, or what you call "fundamental rights" (even though you seem to misunderstand the concept) are based in the Constitutional text. A duly passed Amendment--no matter what that Amendment says--is every bit as much a part of the Constitution as "We the People", or the Fourth Amendment, or whatever.A justice has no power to decide which amendments he will enforce. First of all, judicial power doesn't include the ability to enforce. That's what the executive branch is for. Second of all, a justice simply cannot say "I know that the Fifth Amendment protects against self incrimination, but you know what? Screw it. I won't 'enforce' it." Just the same, if our duly elected representatives on the federal and state levels properly pass, say, the Ninety-Eighth Amendment which says "No matter what anything else in the Constitution says, the so-called fundamental right to interstate travel is hereby revoked", a justice can't say "Screw it. I don't like that one. It doesn't count." And that is a good thing. Because the alternative is an unelected judiciary with life terms creating laws by fiat.

scott3460 6 years, 7 months ago

"I'll go with folks with good business sense, but there is no question that lawyers are a drag on the country. Which I guess is a way of altering the course of the nation."Of course, a drag is a pretty good thing when you have a traitorous creep like our current President at the wheel. Lord know where we'd be without some restraint.

beatrice 6 years, 7 months ago

Roberts would also have been correct if he had stated that a person with a bad business sense can also change the course of history, especially when that person is our President. Didn't Bush run on the idea of putting a CEO in the White House? Ever notice how after the fall of Enron we never here of this anymore? Good for KU on getting the Chief Justice to speak. I'm sure there are many schools that would want him to speak on their campus. Even if it was boring to some, it is still an honor. Go KU!lawyer joke: Difference between a dead lawyer in the road and a dead skunk in the road? The skunk would be the one with skid marks in front of it. Happy 5th Anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq everyone!

kansas778 6 years, 7 months ago

cool, what exactly are you proposing? That he should just ignore a new amendment he doesn't like?

manbearpig 6 years, 7 months ago

Cool:You do realize that Roberts was not on the Court for Bush v. Gore, don't you?Also, I would recommend that many of you take a good course in Constitutional Law before really discussing this topic as many of you have no freaking idea what you are talking about.

Poon 6 years, 7 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says: well Poon, we don't know the truth because Gore's votes were not recounted statewide in Florida.he won - and Bush got into office via 'Supreme Injustice'.--------------------------------------------------------------------------With all due respect Cool, you appear to have contradicted yourself with this post. Which is it, "we don't know the truth" or "he won"?

ralphralph 6 years, 7 months ago

Roberts strikes me as very bright, very capable. Too young? For cripes sake! I'm thrilled that we have someone running the Court who doesn't need help getting up out of his chair. That would be nice in the Legislature as well ... did the CJ say anything about term limits?

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

I haven't seen enough of the guy to determine whether I like him or not (as a justice; last night he seemed personable enough but bland). But you certainly can't say he's not qualified for the position--impressive resume.And seriously, too young? Guy's in his fifties. Give me a break.

Eride 6 years, 7 months ago

Are you implying a man with 17 years prior experience in law including 3 years as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit lacks experience?How much experience do you need if 20 years isn't enough?Could it be that you don't know what you are talking about?I think that the answer to the rhetorical question above probably explains how asinine your post is.

kansas778 6 years, 7 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says: i was really asking - whether a supreme court chief justice who says that he will enforce 'any' amendments to the constitution as a member of the judiciary is not indeed a threat to the democracy.***cool, you are poorly informed. The constitution is the essence of democracy; It requires supermajorities to amend. In other words, the only way a Supreme Court justice could be a threat to democracy would be if he refused to enforce any amendment.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

kansas778--Don't bother. It's like talking to a wall. At first I thought this was troll behavior. Now I understand that cool simply cannot intellectually apprehend the basic functioning of the federal system.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Ok, let's try again:The SCOTUS exists in order to ensure that legislation passed by various legislatures is in compliance with the Constitution.Scalia's comments that the way to change things is through legislation ignores this fact. Let's say we enact legislation which is then passed to the SCOTUS. Depending on the justices' point of view, it can be overturned as unconstitutional or not. That means that the justices' perspectives/interpretations of the Constitution will directly affect what legislation can be enacted. That's my point. As far as the specific case, I continue to disagree with the decision. The arrest was illegal (violated state law/procedures), therefore the search was "unreasonable".This decision is frightening - police could arrest anyone they like without probable cause, search them, and then use any evidence they find to charge them with something else.Even though the original arrest is illegal, any evidence obtained would be admissable.This is a huge and dangerous intrusion, and violates the spirit of the 4th amendment, imho.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

If you mean the suspended license was probable cause for the arrest, I disagree.State law clearly spelled out that the correct action in this situation is to issue a citation/summons and let the person go.What other information do you base your claim that there was probable cause for arrest on?We have law enforcement officers not following their own procedures - do you not care about that?

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Of course, I'm using a "personal" definition of unreasonable.If there was probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the search, why did they arrest the defendant?I'm amazed that you don't see the problem here - an illegal arrest resulted in evidence that was thrown out by Virginia courts and the Virginia Supreme Court.Why? Because they (also) felt that the search was unreasonable, given that it followed from an illegal arrest.The spirit of the 4th amendment is that the people should be protected from the state and its' representatives.It is of course unfortunate that they didn't provide us with their definition of unreasonable, but my feeling is that they would err on the side of the people, not the state, in situations like this.We'll see what happens, but given this administation's (and this court's) blatant disregard for individual rights (illegal wiretapping, torture, detainment of American citizens without access to lawyers, etc.) I fear this will just open the door to more state misbehavior.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

And, just a couple of comments about Scalia's "originalist" philosophy, which is of course a good place to start, but maybe not to end.The use of the term "men" in "All men are created equal", apparently didn't apply to black men or women at the time. Should we return to that understanding?When he comments that the Constitution "says nothing about abortion", he is of course correct. It also says nothing about many other aspects of modern life. That's why we try to think about the principles, and apply them to situations that didn't exist at the time.And, going back to basic principles is generally a good way to evaluate ideas.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

"The SCOTUS exists in order to ensure that legislation passed by various legislatures is in compliance with the Constitution."This is not strictly true, but it doesn't impact your argument, so we'll move on."As far as the specific case, I continue to disagree with the decision. The arrest was illegal (violated state law/procedures), therefore the search was "unreasonable"."I still feel like you're using a personal definition of "unreasonable", as in "I don't think this is reasonable.""This decision is frightening - police could arrest anyone they like without probable cause, search them, and then use any evidence they find to charge them with something else."I think this is where you're missing the point. This decision had nothing to do with probable cause. It was not an issue for the state, for the Supreme Court, or the defendant. There was probable cause. Again, if you think there's anything groundbreaking or controversial about this decision, it's because you lack perspective.

geniusmannumber1 6 years, 7 months ago

"Of course, I'm using a "personal" definition of unreasonable."Nobody's debating your right to do so. It merely means that any argument you make in which the definition of "unreasonable" is not going to be useful intellectually or jurisprudentially. Essentially, you're ignoring everything that's ever been said about the Fourth Amendment and starting from scratch. Again, you're entitled to your opinion, but you're going to be repeatedly surprised by the gulf between the way that you, personally, think things ought to be and the way they are and have been for decades, when there's no reason you should be."If there was probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the search, why did they arrest the defendant?"Again, we see a disconnect. "Probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion" are not synonymous. They have specific meanings. They are not applied to the same situations. A warrantless arrest can be made when the police officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The defendant was driving while suspended. Once the officer determined this fact, he had probable cause to arrest."I'm amazed that you don't see the problem here - an illegal arrest resulted in evidence that was thrown out by Virginia courts and the Virginia Supreme Court.Why? Because they (also) felt that the search was unreasonable, given that it followed from an illegal arrest."This statement is inaccurate. At the very least, it ignores the point that was actually at issue in the case. If you'd like to discuss this matter, you might read the cases you're discussing."The spirit of the 4th amendment is that the people should be protected from the state and its' representatives."I have no idea what this statement means. Nowhere in the Bill of Rights is there any mention of state government. It is clear that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the individual States until the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. The first time the Fourth Amendment was actually applied to the individual states was 1949. There are a number of rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights that are not applicable to the states. For instance, the grand jury indictment clause of the 5th Amendment, or the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial in civil cases only apply to the federal government, and not to the states."It is of course unfortunate that they didn't provide us with their definition of unreasonable...."Again, there is an entire body of law which has gone into determining what "unreasonable" means. If you aren't going to study that body of law, at least read the case, where it is at least discussed.After reflection, it seems like your primary concern is that you feel like rights you thought that you had (for some reason) have been taken away. These are not rights you (or anyone) ever had. I think this is certainly a case for increased constitutional literacy.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Ok, one more, then I'm done.First, I don't appreciate your tone, which I've ignored up until now.If you think that driving on a suspended license was probable cause for arrest, I disagree. The clearly stated procedure in that state for that offense is a citation.Would you think that failure to signal a turn would be probable cause for arrest?If you really don't understand the spirit of the 4th amendment, I don't see how I can help you. The founding fathers were concerned about the rights of individuals. Justice Black, who had the endearing habit of carrying the Bill of Rights around with him, responded to a question about these just making it harder for the police by saying "That's exactly the point - that's what they're supposed to do."If you think that there is a clear and concrete consensus on the definition/interpretation of the term "unreasonable", I disagree.Here's a scenario for your consideration - you are a student, driving in town. You fail to signal a turn. An officer stops you, and instead of giving you a ticket (the correct procedure), chooses to arrest and search you and your car. When asked why, he says that you "seemed nervous". After doing so, he finds a Koran in your glove compartment. You explain that you are studying this in a class. He finds this suspicious, and thinks you may be a terrorist, so he takes some actions that are usual these days - he detains you without charging you, denies you access to a lawyer, lies to you, denies bathroom breaks, etc. After some time, he says "If you'd just admit ..., we'll let you go". So you do, after which you're promptly charged with terrorist activities.From your previous comments, I would have to conclude that you wouldn't have a problem with this - the failure to signal and nervous demeanor are probable cause for arrest, the search is ok, all of the activities from that point are acceptable under the Patriot Act and current laws.I think it's completely outrageous, of course, and not at all consonant with the intentions/ideals that this country was founded on.After reflection, I think you are so caught up with details that you are missing some of the big picture, which is fairly common these days.Of course, you clearly know a lot about the details.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

It seems that in this case the probable cause for arrest was the defendant's attempt to flee when told he was being arrested.This is in fact legal in Virginia for him to do.This makes it worse to me - someone is legally attempting to avoid an illegal arrest, and that attempt is used as probable cause?It's clear to me that this decision is much too biased in favor of law enforcement, and too liberal in their idea of probable cause.The police acted illegally, the defendant acted legally, and then those actions resulted in probable cause for his arrest? It doesn't really make sense, and explains why no one mentioned the content of the probable cause.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Ok,I've read the decision in its' entirety (I didn't read all of the footnotes).What was the probable cause for the arrest?The arresting officer said (from another article) when asked about the arrest "That's just our prerogative".If he was arrested for the suspended license violation, and subsequent searches are to "safeguard evidence" related to the arrest, how are drugs found on his person relevant to that?By the way, they didn't search him immediately because each thought the other had done so - a little "Keystone Cop" routine, don't you think?It's interesting and strange that a case which relies so heavily on the concept of "probable cause" doesn't state clearly what that was.Clearly the court held that probable cause is sufficient grounds for arrest/search, even if it violates state law.If that's so, I hope we're holding officers to a high standard regarding probable cause, but I fear we aren't.

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