Police-search ruling can’t stand

Jim Banks|JournalGazette

After a legislative session with its share of landmark policy decisions, I was eager to return home, get back to my family and my regular job and take a break from policy battles.

Unfortunately, the Indiana Supreme Court had other plans.

The outrage rolling across the state against an Indiana Supreme Court ruling has been one of the few things to unite people from different political backgrounds. With just a few simple words, Justice Steven David launched a devastating attack on individual Hoosiers’ liberties: “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers. We believe however that a right to resist unlawful police entry is … incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.”

Contrast David’s words with the actual text of 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.”

I will not shortchange the concerns about the specifics of the case that brought this matter to the attention of the Indiana Supreme Court. Domestic violence is a serious matter, and law enforcement officials must be free to protect citizens in accordance with the rights and restrictions placed on these officers by the Constitution. Unfortunately, the court’s ruling in this case will do very little to protect citizens from the horrors of domestic violence and might even open the door to abuse by some law enforcement officials. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller went on the record stating the court had ruled too broadly. Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski issued a statement clarifying that random “door-to-door” searches would not be permitted in his jurisdiction. Drinski took this action after comments attributed to Newton County Sheriff Don Hartman suggested that his officers would do so since it is permitted by this ruling.

It’s hard to believe that the court can simply decide that modern conveniences such as bail, prompt arraignment and civil recourse actually trump our constitutional rights.

The Fourth Amendment wasn’t randomly demanded by the states. Rather, it reflected an outgrowth of protection the then-colonies had already recognized in many instances in their own codes of laws. There are several examples of the colonies adopting laws protecting ordinary citizens from similar illegal incursions by government authorities.

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Entertainment Industry Pushes Legislation to Suspend 4th Amendment to Combat Piracy

Wired and numerous other sources report that California is working on passing legislation which would allow law enforcement officials to enter factories and seize disc stamping equipment or pirated movies and music on discs, without the need for a warrant. Basically they can strap on some body armor and come charging on to your private property any time they want, as long as the RIAA or the MPAA thinks you may have something to do with movie or music piracy.

The move is being justified in the name of protecting California’s struggling economy. State Sen. Alex Padilla says, “The crime of illegal mass reproduction of music and movies is a serious problem. Last year alone, more than 820,000 illegal discs were seized by law enforcement authorities in California.” The legislation in question has already passed two state Senate committees and goes up for a vote in another one, this week.

The RIAA and the MPAA are, of course, out in strong support of this measure which also includes a provision for fines of up to $250,000. The legislation specifically targets “replicator plants” which are believed to be responsible for 90% of all the illegal discs floating out there. This begs the question… who still watches pirated DVDs? There’s this thing called the internet. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten about your computer. Federal legislation allowing the government to sue “infringing websites” is already underway.

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