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(Reuters)   Papers, please: Supreme Court okays roadblocks for police information   ( divider line
    More: Scary  
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10211 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Jan 2004 at 8:17 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

255 Comments     (+0 »)

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2004-01-13 02:47:32 PM  
Eh, I'm okay with that. Just don't drive drunk and you should be okay.
2004-01-13 02:59:39 PM  
maybe your are, but I don't want the cops stopping me because they are looking for the Lindberg bay kidnapper or some other bullshiat pretext.

"The makers of the Constitution conferred the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by all civilized men the right to be let alone."
- Justice Louis D. Brandeis
2004-01-13 03:25:28 PM  
One week after the accident?!? I'd be more understanding if it was an hour or so after the incident and, let's say, 70 miles down the interstate. Then they could reasonably assume that they would get eyewitnesses. One week later?!? I'm guessing there is at least one unsolved hit and run on every single 100-mile stretch of interstate every week. Thanks for the loophole, Supreme Court! I salute you!

p.s. I hate drunk drivers as much as anyone. I just like my liberties more.
2004-01-13 03:33:25 PM  
Sieg Heil Mein Fuhrer!

Welcome to the new police state of America! Guilty until proven innocent!
2004-01-13 03:34:18 PM  
Yeah, someguy50, if you're not guilty, you won't mind a little body cavity search, right? I mean, your innocence means that eventually you'll be released. Oh, and since you're not drunk, you'll be fine with the shackles until that time.
2004-01-13 03:35:48 PM  
funsucker I think the point of waiting a week was that no witnesses came forward in that week. So they set up a road block at the same time and place as the accident occurred to ask for help from people who reasonably travel that same stretch of road at about the same time each day, that is, people who likely could have witnessed the accident, but did not come forward as witnesses.

I think it is a very reasonable approach and I would not object to an occassional 10 minute traffic backup for something like that.
2004-01-13 03:42:52 PM  
Geez, people, go back and RTFA. The Supreme court did not approve random body cavity searches of people randomly plucked off the streets and detained for no reason.

They said that if there is a legal roadblock, then the cops can legally arrest people ensnared in the roadblock for criminal wrongdoing even if they were not the reason for the roadblock.

If you can find an erosion of your civil liberties in that, you have the imagination of a child, and you can live in a wonderful place in your mind where ponies fly and butterflies sing songs, so you have nothing to fear from the boogerman.
2004-01-13 03:51:08 PM  

you're the man and all, but did YOU rtfa? it did not merely say if the there is a legal roadblock then they could arrest individuals for unrelated offenses. it also said that these types of roadblocks ARE legal per se. this is the objectionable portion of the decision.

cops should not be able to stop people who are going about their business unless there are EXIGENT circumstances. i do not feel that a week old crime constitute exigent circumstances. furthermore, there are many FAR LESS INTRUSIVE means to obtain the information.

btw, everyone should have the imagination of a child
2004-01-13 03:54:16 PM  
My point, fishrockcarving, is that this ruling more or less gives the police a loophole to set up a roadblock whenever they want. There is always an unsolved crime in every area that could be investigated in this manner, whether it is on a interstate or a city street. With the ruling, the police could set up a road block every night in the ghetto to try and get information on an unsolved murder. I'm sure any drug/booze/prostitution arrests would be completely secondary to their original goal... Yes, I know the vast majority of police departments would enver use this tactic, but there are plenty that would.
2004-01-13 03:58:46 PM  
Put up random roadblock for no reason. Body cavity search everyone. Say anyone breaking the law at said roadblock is a terrorist. Throw terrorist in jail without charges of any kind. Let terrorist rot in jail till death without recourse of any kind.

This scenario is now possible and entirely legal.

Welcome to America! Vote for Bush!
2004-01-13 04:01:21 PM  
Nope, screw that. The SC just farked us all.

A traffic stop is one thing. But random checkpoints placed for the ostensible purpose of solving a week old crime? Might as well put a roadblock on every street, because a crime was committed there at some point in the past.

This decision essentially means that police can stop you at any time, for anything. Without reasonable suspicion, I can't see how that's constitutional. (oh yeah, because the supreme court said it is) The issue is whether a person must identify himself to police officer who has not arrested him.

I'm off to find and read the actual opinion. This can't be as broad as it seems from the article.

Another case to watch is Hiibel v. Nevada (not a typo, just a weird name).
2004-01-13 04:02:32 PM  
It's not what they "would" use, it's what they "could" use that's important. Rule of law, and all of that. Depending upon the indulgence of the police, rather than reigning them in with limitations, is a dangerous precedent.
2004-01-13 04:02:47 PM  
Ooops, I screwed that up. The sentence that reads, "The issue is whether a person must..." is in reference to the Hiibel v. Nevada case.
2004-01-13 04:09:15 PM  
I'm reading the court decision right now, which you can do here.

This is voluntary. Which means they can ask you to stop, but can't force you to, and can't arrest you for leaving. At least that will be my legal defense when this happens to me.
2004-01-13 04:10:18 PM  
I don't know what's wrong with me today. You can read it here.

Or here
2004-01-13 04:11:03 PM  
flubby That is a good point regarding exigent circumstances. However, these types of roadblocks ARE legal, have been for years, and survive challenge after challenge after challenge. The "exigent circumstances" either doesn't apply in this case, or will be the ultimate undoing of these types of roadblocks.

Funsucker I suppose in theory, yes, but in actual practice, it can't happen that way. Cops can't randomly set up roadblocks for the hell of it, they have to have approval from somebody who takes the responsibility for losing any evidence found in the roundblock, and every other liability associated with having the roadblock. The exigent circumstances point flubby made is an excellent point I hadn't considered before. The lack of exigent circumstances alone is enough to invalidate evidence found by your hypothetical roadblock.
2004-01-13 04:12:22 PM  
This scenario is now possible and entirely legal.

No it isn't.
2004-01-13 04:25:01 PM  
fishcockcraving why not? I've just read the decision, and I don't see any limitations whatsoever regarding the temporal proximity of the crime as it relates to the roadblock. As flubby said, they could set up a roadblock to search for the real killers of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. And it would be constitutional. And if you happen to be driving on that street, and the facial recognition software which police will be using soon matches you up with a record of someone wanted for whatever reason, you're going to be quite inconvenienced, I'd say.
2004-01-13 04:33:51 PM  
JackBlack your link of the ruling answers that concern best, namely, there is little fear of a proliferation of these type of roadblocks because of practical concerns such as limited police resources and the public's general hostility toward traffic tie-ups in general.

Seriously, you are not saying that now, because the SC ruled to support a law already in place for many years, that all of a sudden we are all subject to random detainments, body cavity searches, and summary imprisonments? And that when that happens, it will now be legal?
2004-01-13 04:35:22 PM  
I know all those words, but that headline makes no sense.
2004-01-13 04:46:15 PM  
Yes, that's what I'm saying, fishrockcarving. (sorry about butchering your name up there. Paging Dr. Freud.)

I noticed the justification you mentioned, I just think it's terribly short-sighted. And this, from a court that's supposed to be the opposite. This decision has constitutionalized a new category of checkpoint. Now that police forces know they can do it, it is only a matter of time until they find an economical way to do it. If the only limiting factor working against the proliferation of random, information-seeking checkpoints is a lack of police officers to perform the role, I don't feel any safer.

And what about small towns? What's stopping the police from setting up a permanent checkpoint on every road leading into and out of town? That's a police state, thank you very much.
2004-01-13 04:59:40 PM  
This scenario is now possible and entirely legal...
No it isn't.

Yes it is.

If the police can do something they will do something. Just because there aren't enough police to carry this out is entirely meaningless. Let's say shrub decides to kick the deficit over another digit and hire fleets of federal jack booted storm troopers to man said checkpoints.

If this crap doesn't scare the living bajeebus out of you, you are truely living with your head placed somewhere it shouldn't be.
2004-01-13 05:02:17 PM  
...long. belong.
2004-01-13 05:03:10 PM  
JacksBlack I think that is a good idea to keep possible abuses in mind when creating laws, butI think it is a bad idea to avoid supporting an existing law on the basis of somewhere down the line, the possibility that it might be abused might become a reality. I think that that is the main reason we still make laws and set them before the courts to decide as to their legality.

We would revert to a complete lawless free-for-all if every law was examined and dismissed if there was even the remote possibility that it could be abused by those sworn to enforce it. No law, no matter how reasonable could stand up to that level of scrutiny.

"No, we can't give police guns, because some cop might shoot some guy with no good reason." Okay, how about sticks, "No, cause they could hit some guy who is not struggling and in handcuffs." Well, then, should we let them drive around and write tickets to speeding motorists? "Heavens no! Some cop might write some guy a ticket just because he drives a nicer car than the cop can afford to drive."

The potential for abuse exists. The courts are there to catch it and re-write the law if neccessary to prevent it. This law is under constant scrutiny, and, some cases are tossed becuase of small abuses, like the case cited that supported the overturning of the drunk's conviction. That keeps the cops honest, the fact that they are held accountable for abuses, and lose cases when they cross the line. The line you are drawing is far away on the other side of the line that the courts have drawn.

/too many words, sorry
2004-01-13 05:03:26 PM  
For those of you who are curious about the Hiibel v. Nevada case. (good links at the bottom of the page)

Basically the Court will be deciding whether an individual who is not under arrest can be compelled to provide identification upon request.

I see here that the case is scheduled for argument on Monday, March 22, 2004.

I've been watching this case because I was arrested in September for "Failure to Identify." I plead not guilty and the charge was dismissed when the arresting officer didn't show up for trial.
2004-01-13 05:05:17 PM  
No it isn't.

Yes it is.

No it isn't, infinity
2004-01-13 05:13:06 PM  
fishrockcarving, potential for abuse is a factor which absolutely must be considered by the Court. It must be balanced against the public interest. In this case, I think the Supreme Court is putting its thumb on the scales.

The police had other, less intrusive options available to them. I think the Court has made a mistake in authorizing police roadblocks for this purpose. But these days, it's hardly a surprise.
2004-01-13 05:57:32 PM  
someguy50, and all others who agree with this:

The whole point of search and seizure laws, and our whole "adverserial" system of justice is that because laws, attitudes, understanding, technolgy, etc. are an evolving and changing thing, its not right to have a facist-like system for things that we think of today as "clearly wrong."

Sorry, cops are human. They, like everyone, need to be contained. It is only human nature to use everything within the boundries of the law (and then the grey areas) to "do your job" better.

No. It is not right for a person to have to deal with a cop at ANY time unless they are suspected to have done something wrong, through the normal process of suspicion.


No, it is NOT my job to help cops out to solve a crime. That is their job. Its my job to pay for a part of it with my taxes, fine. But thats it. Catch the guy on your own! I'm not being paid to friggin play Sherlock Holmes for your drunk driving mystery!
2004-01-13 06:04:42 PM  

it is a bad idea to avoid supporting an existing law on the basis of somewhere down the line, the possibility that it might be abused might become a reality.

Agreed in terms of "all" laws. But this one clearly HAS been and WILL be abused, just based on the number of police abuse cases that have to do with search-and-siezure, roadblocks, and the like.

If someone has an ounce of pot in their car, you think the cop isn't going to do something about it after pulling you over for the original intent of asking you a question about a crime someone else commited? No, you'd go to jail. (insert any other minor legal infraction... your windows are tinted too much, no seatbelts, whatever...)

Ok... so pot is illegal. Fine. But don't you see what this opens up?

There is a reason we don't have Gestapo soldiers on every corner checking everyone's bags. Not because it would be ineffective.... it WOULD cut down on illegal behavior. But we have a more advanced and complex system that ensures certain freedoms.

Those freedoms come at a cost. The cost is "bad guys" ARE going to get away with things more often. That is a cost we've always been willing to pay.
2004-01-13 06:23:46 PM  
The police had other, less intrusive options available to them. What? It was a hit and run fatality, with no witnesses coming forward. And, this is not that intrusive. It is a short wait in line, and a few seconds while a cop asks, "Did you see it?, no? okay, thanks anyway."

I mean, seriously, that is not an intrusion, anymore than cops canvassing a neighborhood asking if people saw anything suspicious after one of their neighbors got robbed or murdered. They are not asking for ID, they are not looking in the trunk, they are not running driver's plates. That would be an unwarranted intrusion.

But this one clearly HAS been and WILL be abused, just based on the number of police abuse cases that have to do with search-and-siezure, roadblocks, and the like.

Just like every other law on the books has been and will be abused. And, like the case cited in the appellate overturn of the conviction, cases get thrown out when the law is abused.

The SC has only affirmed a law that has been around forever, and yet the only thing you ever hear about is the occassional drunk driver ormisdemeanor drug arrest that happened to get caught in the net.

In all the years that cops have been allowed to use roadblocks for all the varieties of reasons, there is not one example of, to quote the doomsayers, random citizens detained for no reason, getting body cavity searches, labelled as terrorists and summarily sent to languish in prison with no legal recourse available to them. Not one.

I don't see this ruling making it start happen now.
2004-01-13 07:24:35 PM  
fishrockcarving, if you don't see it, it's because you're not looking. If you'd look at the big picture, you'd see the pieces falling into place.

People are detained without reason every day. Not just in roadblocks, but while on foot in public. If the Court rules against Hiibel, that will mean that during these detentions, the police may demand your identification. They will then check any or all of the many databases available to them. I hope you paid those parking tickets. For that matter, I hope you paid your Visa card, as they'll soon have access to consumer records as well as criminal records.

If 'the president' (read: someone in the executive branch) thinks you qualify as an 'enemy combatant,' you can be arrested without charge and held indefinately, incommunicado. They don't even have to admit that they've arrested you.

This may not have happened, yet. We'd never know. But the Court is certainly setting the groundwork for it.
2004-01-13 07:27:14 PM  
Ach, mein Godwins. I thought the "Paranoid Android" versus "The guy who attempts to correct the Paranoid Android but doesn't realize the Paranoid Android wants to be Paranoid to Be Paranoid About Something" flamewar didn't happen until we move to the regular Fark board?
2004-01-13 07:39:52 PM  
Have You Met Miss Jones, there are no flames here. Please check your assumptions at the door.
2004-01-13 08:05:14 PM  
You guys are definitely not cooking my popcorn. What is all this reasoned debate crap.

Just kidding, this is good.

If your not concerned about the potential for abuse here (the SC decision, not this thread) you're not looking hard enough at what's been going on in this country.
2004-01-13 08:06:40 PM  

2004-01-13 08:08:48 PM  
If you have nothing to hide, you don't need the Constitution.
2004-01-13 08:22:01 PM  
"Stop in the name of love...before you break my balls"...gotta love the Supremes
2004-01-13 08:24:41 PM  
Well, this sounds like another case of best intentions that could go terribly wrong...

I think a lot of people thought that the Patriot Act would also only be used by the forces of good to combat evil.
2004-01-13 08:25:27 PM  
Welcome to 1984 biatches. If we can't take them out with the ballot box, I say try the ammo box.
2004-01-13 08:25:52 PM  
In other news, the sky is falling.
2004-01-13 08:25:52 PM  
2004-01-13 08:28:45 PM  
2004-01-13 08:29:17 PM  
My read: police state, step #3
2004-01-13 08:31:43 PM  

My friends and I always talk about the US becoming a police state (and then Canada following, because we're like that... stupid capitalism) but now I see that's here. Sad really.
2004-01-13 08:34:29 PM  
Yeah, im gonna be real helpful to the cops when pulled over a week later about the incident.
"Hi, i need youre license, registration, take theis breathalizer, and get out of the car so i can check your pockets. Oh, yeah, did you by any chance see that accident last week?"

Oh, yeah, im gonna be real farking helpful.

oh, and fishrockcarving: Maybe you should read some kind of news other than John Ashcrofts "Meet mr happy fun policeman."
2004-01-13 08:34:47 PM  

LOL well put FoamingPipeSnake. I can't believe this shiat. How is setting up a police checkpoint "just to ask about ______" not an unreasonable search and seizure? Even if it's a quick scan of your vehicle and person? Unless the "______" is urgent, i.e. the sniper shootings in D.C., I don't see how it's reasonable. They are stopping you even if you have done nothing wrong. WTF, the DUI road blocks were bad enough, this is unbelievable.

Police now have the right to stop you for dubious reasons at best. How can they think that stopping cars, random or otherwise, to ask everyone about a hit-and-run last week is reasonable? What else then falls under the category of "reasonable"? Quite a bit I'd say! Arbitrary roadblocks, whee, here we go America. I guess some can shrug off the deterioration of civil rights as long as it doenst affect them. Bah. I'm too pissed to think or type.

2004-01-13 08:36:46 PM  
Well, Emperor_Jay is being proven right more and more, day by day? This is the sux0rz.
2004-01-13 08:37:49 PM  

In other news, the sky is falling.

Not on my particular stretch of land so until that happens, I'm incapable of believing it to be true. Sorry. Try selling it on a Reality show, maybe I'll pay attention to it there.
2004-01-13 08:38:25 PM  
JacksBlack I see the pieces, I just don't see them falling into any particular place.

As I understand it, the law already requires citizens to identify themselves when asked by the authorities, to the extent that it is a misdemeanor offense to not present ID when lawfully asked by a police officer. It has been that way since before you or I was born.

If I don't pay my parking tickets, I am breaking the law, and ultimately may be arrested for it. This is not any drastic change in our society's laws. My Visa bills are between me and Visa, and a civil matter unless I break the law and commit fraud. Again, not only nothing new here, but, new laws actually protect me from Visa to Visa's detriment, even if I do stiff them.

And before this point gets completely lost, THIS IS NOTHING NEW. This is not some new power over the masses given to cops who are now sending out contracts for new flashy lighted sawhorses as we speak. This is an affirmation and clarification of a law that has been around for years, and has yet to result in, dare I say it one more time, even one single citizen being yanked off the street, detained randomly, subjected to a body cavity search, branded a terrorist, and being summarily imprisoned with no legal recourse available to him whatsoever.

Call me shortsighted, but considering that the SC reviewed a case overturned on appeal based on a legal precedent that limits police and just didn't think that precedent applied in this case so upheld the conviction, I don't see that anything has changed. And certainly not as dramatically as some people seem to think.
2004-01-13 08:39:18 PM  
Only the Yellowstone Caldera can save the US now...
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