The Supreme Court of the United States
The US Supreme Court releases its decisions for the year during June. There are a number of highly important decisions we all are waiting for, such as restraining the EPA and banning subsidies for Obamacare. We often forget that some other less well-known cases are important, too. SCOTUS released three decisions yesterday. All were favorable from a conservative perspective.
The first of these, Kingsley v. Hendrickson, dealt with the standard an inmate must meet to prevail on a section 1983 action for excessive force while in pretrial detention. For the non-lawyers, 42 U.S.C. section 1983 (paraphrased) allows citizens to bring lawsuits against agents of the government when those agents deprive them of their constitutional rights (including the right to be free of the excessive use of force). The case concerned a man named Kingsley who was awaiting trial in county jail, and who was forcibly removed from his cell with some considerable force (including the use of tasers). Mr. Kingsley brought suit, alleging that his Constitutional rights had been violated. — Red State.
The Court affirmed that a person held in pre-trial confinement was still presumed to be innocent and therefore was entitled to be as free from excessive force as anyone simply walking in public.
A person who is in pretrial custody is still entitled to the same presumption of innocence that you and I are, and is still entitled to the same constitutional protections against excessive use of force. The government often tends to treat people who are in pretrial detention as being presumptively guilty nonetheless, and this decision will hopefully help reinforce the point that it isn’t so. This decision may not seem like anything that matters to you now, but if you ever find yourself awaiting trial on bogus or politically motivated charges (a reality that occurs more often than we would care to admit), it will be a major protection. — Red State.
The second decision, City of Los Angeles v. Patel, was a win for our 4th Amendment rights. The City of Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring hotels and motels to keep copies of their registry records for 90 days and to hand them over for police inspection at any time without any judicial recourse. Failure to do automatically generated a fine against the hotel/motel owner.
Mr. Patel sought to facially challenge this ordinance on Fourth Amendment grounds – something that was previously difficult if not impossible to do (many ordinances and statutes had been subject to facial challenge under, say, the First Amendment, but not the Fourth).
The Court held that a) facial challenges under the Fourth Amendment were permissible (and not disfavored) and b) that an ordinance that did not permit independent judicial review of a search of this type was facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. This decision reaffirmed a basic bulwark of our constitutional protections from police overreach – that when police demand the right to conduct a search and seizure of your property, you are always entitled to a before-the-fact judicial review of their actions, in the absence of special exigent circumstances which it is their burden to prove at court. — Red State.
This decision could also be grounds for suits against some of the more egregious asset forfeiture laws and the abuses caused by them.
The third decision was a direct blow against the Department of Agriculture and the federal government as a whole. The Government may not seize property real OR personal, without due process and compensation.
The third, Horne v. Department of Agriculture, concerns one of the most shocking and longstanding abuses of the free market that the government has ever engaged in – the government’s “marketing orders” program that it uses to artificially set the market for many agricultural products. Under this abominable program, if you wish to sell many agricultural products in the United States (in this case, raisins), the government can (and does) require you to set aside a portion of your crop and just give it to the government for them to sell it, donate it, or destroy it as they see fit. For raisin growers, the government regularly confiscates nearly half the products they grow, for absolutely nothing, just for the right to sell raisins in the United States. Keeping in mind that the Department of Agriculture, with little or no Congressional oversight, determines how much of your crop they get to steal, how they dispose of your crops, and whether you get anything back at all.
The Hornes were raisin growers who refused to participate in this program, reasoning that, at the very least, if the government wanted to take their raisins, this would constitute a “taking” under the Constitution, which under Fifth Amendment precedent would at least require the government to pay them “just compensation” for their personal property. The Federal Government argued that this constitutional provision only applied to real property (i.e., land) and not personal property (e.g., raisins). Thankfully, the SCOTUS ruled for the raisin farmers, reasoning that “the Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.” — Red State.
This last decision may well end the long abused USDA practice of “marketing orders.” It is no longer a constitutional method of generating revenue for the federal government without compensation to the owners of the seized property. SCOTUS declared that ‘person’ property is just a protected under the 4th Amendment as is real, i.e., land, property. It may seem to be small victories, but we should celebrate every victory against the statists and a tyrannical government and their dictatorial edicts.
The next release of SCOTUS decisions is expected on Thursday of this week if the Court follows its usual practice.
News to watch! Boehner, watch your back! Uhhh, on second thought, Johnny-boy, just ignore them. You’re safe. Heh, heh, heh…