Obama Administration Defies Supreme Court’s Ruling on GPS Tracking

Tim Brown
Front Porch Politics
6/7/2012

In January, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government attaching a GPS device to a citizen’s vehicle, without a warrant, to monitor the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search which violates the Fourth Amendment. Now the Obama administration is informing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that they are going to do it anyway because they have the right and the power to do so.

According to the Obama administration the Supreme Court’s ruling did not specifically mandate obtaining a search warrant in all situations. According to them that leaves a loophole in the ruling that they can use to mount a tracking device.

The Wall Street Journal reports,

The government maintains “that a warrant is not needed for a GPS search, as the Court…did not resolve that question,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said. Nevertheless, she said, the department has “advised agents and prosecutors going forward to take the most prudent steps and obtain a warrant for new or ongoing investigations” in most cases.

The government’s awkward position—saying search warrants are not needed but advising agents to seek warrants anyway—highlights the unanswered questions about digital tracking techniques that remain in the wake of the court’s privacy decision in U.S. v. Jones in January…

The article continues at Front Porch Politics.

RelatedWhere’s the outrage? by Judge Andrew Napolitano.

For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if — had drones existed at the time — King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”

It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?…

…If we remain silent when our popularly elected government violates the laws it has sworn to uphold and steals the freedoms we elected it to protect, we will have only ourselves to blame when Big Brother is everywhere. Somehow, I doubt my father’s generation fought the Nazis in World War II only to permit a totalitarian government to flourish here…

Read the whole thing.

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