There has been an interesting case of an American Muslim woman who had her phone seized by border guards as she returned home to the United States from a trip to Switzerland. The guards just seized her phone and she had to file a lawsuit to get it returned after 120 days. Meanwhile, they refuse to confirm or deny that a copy of her phone was made and shared with any other agency. This is part of the problem with the rule of law – there is none! Government agents can do whatever they desire and it is always your burden to hopefully find a judge who will at least acknowledge you have any rights at all.
Most people will never think of various crimes by the British that led to the American Revolution. Then there was the No Taxation Without Representation slogan. But the act that perhaps began the Revolution was illegal search and seizure.
The legal case that became the seminal beginning of the American Revolution was Entick v. Carrington and Three Other King’s Messengers, reported at length in 19 Howell’s State Trials 1029. This case was the start of the American Revolution and was also based upon an abuse of the king’s agents. The action, dated November 1762, was for trespassing and interfering with the plaintiff’s dwelling by breaking open his desks and boxes and searching and examining his papers.
George III (b 1738; 1760-1820) became king in 1760. In February 1761, Parliament enacted the Writs of Assistance that was challenged in court in Boston, Massachusetts. These were writs that empowered every agent to do as they liked and were no different from how agents act today at their discretion. The Writs of Assistance allowed the king’s agents to search anything they suspected. The defending lawyer James Otis (1725-1783) pronounced these writs were “the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty, and the fundamental principles of law, that ever was found in an English law book.” Otis warned that the king placed discretion in the hands of every agent to act as he desired. Nothing has changed for the government can do whatever it desires today and it is always the burden of the citizen to prove he has any rights whatsoever.
John Adams (1735–1826; 2nd President 1797–1801) was there in the audience at that hearing that day. Adams was so moved by the four- hour speech of James Otis that he declared: “Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there, the child independence was born.”
While I was in New Jersey, twice going to work in the morning the road was blocked and the police were looking at every car. At first, you would think they were searching for a terrorist or a missing person or something you see on a TV show. No, the police of Marlton, New Jersey were arbitrarily stopping every car during rush hour and demanded your papers and identification. If you had then, including your insurance card, then you passed. If you were missing anything, they sent you to another line where they were writing tickets. This was an outright violation of the Fourth Amendment. An illegal search without probable cause. Being stopped during rush hour once was bad enough. They did it a second time.
Marlton, New Jersey had the reputation for the worst police in the state. They wrote more tickets than any town and it was one giant money grab. A friend’s wife looked at her phone for Google Maps while at a red light. The cop waited for her to turn on the highway that they designated as a “safe corridor” which meant fines were doubled. She went to court to show she was not talking or texting. The corrupt judge found her guilty and said she was not allowed to even look at her phone. So the same thing on a piece of paper is ok. If on your phone its a $500 fine. What they do is outright illegal, but it will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to claim you have any rights at all.
This is our real crisis. There is no rule of law. They get to do whatever they want and we have the burden to argue what they did violates the law. This is why rarely will a cop ever be found guilty of even murder when killing someone. Judges will routinely argue they were justified because they THOUGHT their life was in danger.
Twice I went to the airport to pick up non-Americans coming in. One was picking up a friend daughter from Quebec. Because I was picking her and her friend up and taking them to the hotel her father booked, they did not know the address where they were staying. They spoke primarily French. She was just 16 and traveling to see the history in Philadelphia. She handed her phone to the agent who then called me and asked if I was there to pick them up. He then asked if I spoke French because how would I communicate. I responded in French and asked him if he spoke the language. He said OK. I asked what is the problem. They were Canadian. His response was – “They are still aliens!”
Another time I went to pick up an employee coming in from Ukraine. I was there for more than an hour. Everyone else had passed. Finally, a border guard brought them out and wanted to see me. I asked what is the problem? I thought they were concerned about people who did not leave? They had a 5-year business visa and came here frequently. He was just nasty but released them. When I asked what happened, I was told they searched everything and when they could find nothing, they called another agent and said here, maybe you can find something.
There is really nothing you can do. The circle is complete. We have returned to the same position that started the whole thing and we once more face “the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty, and the fundamental principles of law, that ever was found in an English law book.”As the Writs of Assistance in the Entick case, because government agents can do whatever they desire and it is our burden to claim we had any right, the Constitution has been completely nullified. It exists only if we have the MONEY to hire lawyers who price themselves way too high and that ensures people are not defended. Otis warned that the king placed discretion in the hands of every agent to act as he desired.