The loss of rights to the average American is far greater when the War on Drugs is involved. This is by far a more serious problem than anyone can imagine. It pervades all of our lives in insidious ways and cost the taxpayers Billions of dollars to enforce, prosecute and incarcerate Drug offenders using the current Federal and State laws. Now the Feds want to circumvent your 4th Amendment rights as well. Read on. To see the entire article, Click on the title.
Drug War Shrinking Bill of Rights
Thursday, January 27, 2005
By Radley Balko
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that if you're pulled over by the police for speeding or, say, not wearing your seatbelt, they may bring out drug-sniffing dogs to investigate your car without violating the Fourth Amendment.
On the Volokh Conspiracy blog, Orin Kerr observes that Justice John Paul Stevens (search), writing for the majority, indicated that the Fourth Amendment protects not against violations of privacy or invasiveness, but against violation of property rights. Since one can't have property rights for illicit drugs, a search can't violate the Fourth Amendment.
It's a troubling precedent. It's hard to see how any police search would violate any rights under Justice Stevens' ruling, so long as the search turned up something illegal. That sort of undermines what the Fourth Amendment (search) is all about.
That case is just the latest in a number of court rulings and pieces of legislation that have been chipping away at the criminal justice rights of substance-abuse suspects. Ours is quickly becoming a two-tiered criminal justice system, one in which there are one set of criminal protections for drug and alcohol defendants, and a broader set of protections for everyone else.
Last month in Virginia, pain physician Dr. William Hurwitz (search) was convicted on dozens of counts of drug distribution. Prosecutors and the foreman of the jury that convicted him conceded that Hurwitz didn't knowingly participate in a drug trade, but because the pain medication he prescribed made it to the black market, he was nevertheless found guilty. He faces life in prison. Proving intent — as is required to secure a conviction in nearly every other crime — apparently wasn't necessary.