Monday, January 24, 2005

It's Doberman, Maan

I'm declaring shennanigans on the Supreme Court...gotta love the police state:

The high court gave police broader search powers Monday during traffic stops, ruling that drug-sniffing dogs can be used to check out motorists even if officers have no reason to suspect they may be carrying narcotics.

In a 6-2 decision, the court sided with Illinois police who stopped Roy Caballes in 1998 along Interstate 80 for driving six miles over the speed limit. Although Mr. Caballes lawfully produced his driver's license, troopers brought over a drug dog after Mr. Caballes seemed nervous.

Mr. Caballes argued the Fourth Amendment protects motorists from searches such as dog sniffing, but Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed, reasoning that the privacy intrusion was minimal. "The dog sniff was performed on the exterior of respondent's car while he was lawfully seized for a traffic violation. Any intrusion on respondent's privacy expectations does not rise to the level of a constitutionally cognizable infringement," Justice Stevens wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg bemoaned what she called the broadening of police search powers. "Injecting such animal into a routine traffic stop changes the character of the encounter between the police and the motorist. The stop becomes broader, more adversarial and (in at least some cases) longer," she wrote. She was joined in her dissent in part by Justice David H. Souter. --WSJ

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't understand how this is a good decision. Sure, you shouldn't be driving with anything illegal, I know how that speech works. But like our defendant in today's case, I often "seem nervous" when stopped for routine traffic offenses* --that should give the cops license to call in the dogs and see what I have hiding in my trunk? That's fucking bullshit. How is this not an intrusion of my reasonable privacy interests? What if I just seem nervous because I have a full bladder and I fear I might not make it home? Wouldn't a drug-sniffing dog just completely humiliate and intimidate me for no good reason? Can I just piss all over the cop's face after judo-kicking him in the bullocks next time?

I'm not saying this guy should have gotten off, I know next to nothing about his case. And I also don't think getting rid all drug-sniffing dogs is a good idea (hey, some of my best friends are drug-sniffing dogs). But I think this takes the words "probable cause" right out of every officer's lexicon, and that's something I don't think we need right now. Well, now I really love the fact that I don't drive a car anymore.

*When I said I often seem nervous when stopped for routine traffic offenses, that was a bit of a lie. I've been stopped thrice by the police, once for a routine highway speeding stop, and the other two times I should have been arrested on the spot and thrown in jail for being severely impaired while driving. So I've been lucky...but still, this is garbage.


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