How much should the government be able to spy on us?
Well, it’s a little less now than before Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, thank goodness.
The high court unanimously said that law enforcement officers cannot secretly attach global positioning system devices to cars to track criminal suspects without a search warrant issued by a judge.
The fact that this very diverse and often split-decision court was unanimous indicates this ruling was as no-brainer as you’re going to get at the highest court in the land. At the start of the 21st century, it’s more than a little frightening to think about all the ways the government can already monitor us. With future technological developments certain, it’s essential that this court draw a line in the sand to protect our rights going forward.
This is a landmark ruling and a victory for freedom – and, really, for humanity, as we attempt to safeguard our dignity and liberties in a world with increasingly invasive devices around us.
You can argue that police aren’t putting such devices on the vehicles of law-abiding citizens. But: 1) how do you know that? And 2) in spelling out our rights, particularly in the first 10 amendments, the Constitution doesn’t delineate between the good guys and bad guys; we all have the same rights. In this case, it’s 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.”
That’s pretty unambiguous.
Few editorial pages in the country are as pro-law enforcement as this one. But even the good guys wearing badges must have lines they cannot cross.
What’s nearly as ominous as the devices the government is getting its hands on is the fact that, in this case, those sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution had to be told to do so by the courts.