Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Enduring Conservative (SC) Majority

The Supreme Court has another evil 5-4, this time apparently saying that the exclusionary rule doesn't apply to searches in which police officers mistakenly thought they had probable cause. This is irremediably bad if true: the po-lice are already quite good at inventing probable causes for drug arrests, and -- seeing as cops are sometimes suggestible and occasionally stupid -- will be incredible at coming up with reasons why they honestly thought they had probable cause. I don't really see that the principle has any more teeth left than a meth-head:
“When police mistakes leading to an unlawful search are the result of isolated negligence attenuated from the search, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements, the exclusionary rule does not apply,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony
M. Kennedy
, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

So police have sweeping powers to pull people over as long as they're not systemic or reckless about it. Do they just need a new excuse each time?

Ginsburg's remarks are on point:
“Negligent recordkeeping errors by law enforcement threaten individual liberty, are susceptible to deterrence by the exclusionary rule, and cannot be remedied effectively through other means,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.

Not, in particular, through the political process, which is systemically and recklessly in favor of not letting people get off on technicalities.

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