Monday, April 02, 2012
Supreme Court Voids Fourth Amendment
Apparently the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," doesn't mean what you thought it meant.
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that "Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed," (translation: strip searched, including full body-cavity search) even if "the detainee" has been arrested only for something as trivial as a traffic violation. Of course it was a five-four vote, with the four right-wing justices joined by right-moderate Kennedy, and opposed by the four alleged right-liberals on the bench. Thus with the stroke of a pen, one of the supposed bedrocks of American civil rights, one of the very bill of rights itself, is gutted.
The New York Times reports on the case of a man arrested for speeding and held in error on an outstanding warrant: “Turn around,” Mr. Florence, in an interview last year, recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.” Yes, that is now legal. With absolute impunity, according to the alleged final authority on the law and the U.S. constitution.
Women and black people have long understood the limitations of legal protections written two hundred years ago by a bunch of rich, white male slaveowners, but now it's clear to everybody: "The right of the people not to be searched in their persons" does not include protection from cops looking up your asshole on their whim. Not according to a bunch of crazy right-wing Republican congressmen, but according to the fucking Supreme Court of the United States. And you thought the ruling that brought us "corporations are people" was a problem.
Don't mourn, organize.
A note on the paucity of posts here in the last week: I've been busy with the real world, which is a good thing. Building for my local Occupy group, including our push for May Day celebrations, "a day without the 99%." But I've also been fuming over the Trayvon Martin case, so angry at white America's anguish over George Zimmerman I've been scarcely able to organize my thoughts. I'm not sure which rediscovery is worse: the way racism is revealed to be so deeply woven into the fabric of white American culture, or the absolute inability beyond mere denial of white Americans to even acknowledge the possible existence of that racism. From liberals like the NY Times' columnist Gail Collins suggesting the issue at the center of the Martin tragedy is "gun control," (as though limiting rope sales would have effected anything in the era of lynching), to people posting (false) pictures of an allegedly gold-toothed Martin (to what, prove he deserved to die?) that have been spread by outright fascists like Stormfront and eaten up by white Americans unwilling to understand the real world, I've been disturbed and demoralized to the point of inarticulateness. But here we are. Hopefully my voice is coming back. —ISH