February 28, 2020

SCOTUS Lets Fourth Amendment Die in Missouri

Timothy Birdnow

In Missouri the state police can stop a driver pretty much anywhere and at any time without cause. They justify this by a legal loophole that allows "closely regulated industries" to be inspected by the police; they simply expanded the meaning of the term to include all trucks (including pickups) and most cars. A federal court has agreed with Missouri on this, too.

What is the point of having a fourth amendment?  If unreasonable searches and seizures are banned, what does that mean?  Does it only apply to a physical structure, a single family home? If it applies to a building why not a car?  A car is basically a small moving building. By what right is that exempted from the amendment?

At any rate, I'm not the only person to think that, and the Supreme Court was considering taking  the case.

From the Freedom Center of Missouri:

Missouri law authorizes highway patrol officers to stop and inspect almost any kind of vehicle on Missouri’s highways and interstates "with or without probable cause” to believe that any violation of the law has taken place. The officer who stopped Calzone had unfettered discretion in choosing which vehicle he wanted to stop and search. Furthermore, the government argued (and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed!) that citizens waive their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures simply by getting behind the wheel of any vehicle state law labels as a "commercial motor vehicle.” That just so happens to include not only every half-ton pickup truck in the state (regardless of how it is used), but also sweeps in compact- or economy-class cars that are regularly used to carry "merchandise.”

How do police know a car is used to carry "merchandise". And what exactly is merchandise anyway? A trip to the grocery store would constitute carrying merchandise.

Well, SCOTUS turned this case down, so the ruling by the 8th Circuit stands. So apparently it the fourth amendment does not apply in any material way to vehicles in any capacity.

If you aren't secure in a vehicle you aren't secure on foot. It's a small step. And from there they can whittle down your protections inside of buildings, starting with commercial buildings then moving to rental multi-family rental properties, then finally to single family homes. It's a slippery slope.

If the Supreme Court turned this down, what did they take?  This is a clear case for clarification. But then, this Court isn't as conservative as everybody likes to claim.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 10:06 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 426 words, total size 3 kb.

1 If SCOTUS won't take a case like this, what kind of case will they take? What good is a SCOTUS, then? Our Founders must certainly be spinning in their graves!

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at February 28, 2020 11:59 AM (rIYC+)

2 I don't get it either Dana. I wonder what they DID take?  This one is certainly in need of judicial review.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at February 29, 2020 07:46 AM (3b4hw)

Posted by: Samy Mor at February 03, 2021 08:02 AM (e407W)

4 I just wanted to say that your article is great and I really like the information you share.  getting over it

Posted by: Sara at May 04, 2023 11:01 PM (HxuD0)

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