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Why You Should Assert Your Rights

The following was from a recent email communication from Steve Silverman of Flex Your Rights.

On Tuesday the Court held in Rodriguez v. U.S. that suspects cannot be detained beyond the scope of a routine traffic stop for the sole purpose of performing a dog sniff. The 6-3 ruling is indeed a big win for the 4th Amendment. But our old friend and former-Flex Associate Director Scott Morgan emailed me a note about why this ruling is particularly special.

Hey Steve,

Great ruling today! Of course, everyone's going to talk about the rarity of the Court upholding the 4th Amendment these days. What I noticed (and hope more people see) is that this case only happened because the suspect asserted his rights by refusing the dog sniff. It's a point I used to make frequently in the Flex Blog that SCOTUS rulings limiting 4th Amendment protections tend to arise from situations where the suspect did not assert their rights (e.g. Florida v. Bostick). Yet here's a case where the suspect did flex their rights, and look at the outcome! If anyone wonders how asserting your rights makes a difference, well ... here you go.

Cheers,
Scott 

Great point, Scott! Anytime suspects fail to clearly invoke their 4th Amendment rights, their defense is confined to the more difficult path of articulating other procedural 4th Amendment violations. Because of the relative weakness of such arguments, courts will often find that police acted in “good faith” by executing a search they believed to be lawful. This sets bad precedent expanding the scope of legal police searches.

However, when citizens clearly assert their rights, they empower the courts to rule in their favor by setting a higher evidentiary standard necessary to override their refusal. In other words, there’s a greater likelihood for a 4th Amendment victory – which is likely to set good precedent limiting the scope of legal police searches.

I don’t know if Dennys Rodriguez has seen our videos, but when police asked him to wait around until a drug dog could sniff his vehicle, he correctly refused. If more citizens are empowered to do the same – we’ll get better cases, better rulings, and a stronger 4th Amendment.

Taxes Or Death

Waco complex in flames

Ah, blessed spring. That time of renewal, when our lawns start growing again, trees start budding, and flowers start blooming. The time, they say, when young men’s thoughts turn to love. But along with these pleasant things, the thoughts of many also inevitably turn to taxes, as the April 15 deadline for filing dreaded 1040 returns — those self-confession forms that the government insists we are required to file every year — looms once again. And I’m not immune to those thoughts of taxes either; I’m just prohibited by an unconstitutional infringement on my right to free speech — that dastardly federal injunction against the Fellowship — from discussing income taxes. So, this month I’m going to talk a little about some other taxes that come to mind as April rolls around.

I was recently reading through the comments for an internet article discussing the situation in Syria, where people protesting against the government are being brutally attacked by that same government. It comes as no surprise that Syria is no more tolerant of those who don’t bow down to their every edict and whim than is the United States (or any government, for that matter). The discussion centered somewhat on the relative severity of the responses from the two governments, with the comparison on the U.S. side being the shooting of unarmed war protesters at Kent State University by National Guard soldiers on May 4, 1970. Some commentators denounced the comparison because while it was regrettable that a couple of people were shot in Ohio, Syria was using tanks against their protesters. Now there’s no question that tanks are an escalation over rifles, but it got me thinking about whether Kent State was really the best example of the U.S. government abusing its citizens.

April 19th is Patriots’ Day, because on that day in 1775 was fired the “shot heard ‘round the world” — the shot attributed with starting the War for Independence in Lexington, Massachusetts. In recent history however, Patriot’s Day has taken on other significance.1 On that day in 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was blown up, purportedly by Timothy McVey in retaliation for the 1993 massacre in Waco, Texas. And that is the example that came to my mind when thinking about governments using tanks against their own people.

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Why Charlie Rose is an embarrassment to CBS

Recently CBS 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose interviewed Bashir al-Assad. President of Syria. If you watch the replay of that interview on their web site, Assad responding to a question about support for ISIS by the Syrian people by saying, “They have lost. Except the very ideological people who have Wahhabi state of mind and ideology.” Rose (or the editor) then moves on to an unrelated question about civilian casualties without follow up to the ideology of Wahhabism.

My immediate reaction while watching this is that Rose has no clue what Wahhabism is all about. Later Asad (not Rose) brings up the Saudis and Wahhabism again.

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The Real Reason for Torture

I assert that torture has a very specific political function that has nothing to do with the gathering of "intelligence," but everything to do with the projection of the image of the state as a lawless and fearsome entity to its citizens and to the rest of the world, capable of the most heinous and cruel depravity, and thus sending the message that it is not to be disobeyed. This is the same psychological "logic" behind extrajudicial murder (assassinations, drone killings) and the Guantánamo Bay prison, where due process is openly violated.

I assert that torture has a very specific political function that has nothing to do with the gathering of "intelligence," but everything to do with the projection of the image of the state as a lawless and fearsome entity to its citizens and to the rest of the world, capable of the most heinous and cruel depravity, and thus sending the message that it is not to be disobeyed. This is the same psychological "logic" behind extrajudicial murder (assassinations, drone killings) and the Guantánamo Bay prison, where due process is openly violated.

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Admiral speaks his mind about history...

James Aloysius "Ace" Lyons, Jr. (born September 28, 1927) is a retired Admiral in the United States Navy whose 36-year career was capped by serving as Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet from 16 September 1985 to 30 September 1987. (Wikipedia)

Don't wait for this Admiral's appearance on Meet The Press.

 

Watch him - click here

 

 

 

How to Get Rich by "Serving" the Public

jim messina article display bLong before Jim Messina became a trusted aide to President Barack Obama and one of the most powerful men in Washington, he was just a simple boy from Boise. Now, after working in politics for just over a decade, he lives in a lavish D.C. estate. How this happened is a classic Washington Cinderella story.

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