The Supreme Court Thinks It’s Okay When The Police Break The Law

Justice Thomas's majority opinion in the Utah v Strieff case allows police to break the law to get evidence if they have suspicion of criminal activity.
clarence thomas

Perhaps by now you’ve heard about the latest increase in police powers given to them by the Supreme Court. It seems the further away we get from the founding of the nation the less of our rights we have. This latest assault on the Fourth Amendment just increases the police state a little further and gives them even more reason to stop and search you for absolutely no reason.

I am referring to the case of Utah v Strieff, where Justice Thomas handed down the majority decision that essentially said that it’s okay if an officer knowingly breaks the law to uphold a law. You see, Mr. Strieff, was stopped and searched by an officer a little time after being observed coming from a suspected drug house. The officer had no legal reason to stop him except his suspicion, which is why all the stop and frisk actions are also illegal by the way. After radioing in, he learned Mr. Strieff had an outstanding warrant on a minor unrelated charge.

So the officer arrested him for the warrant and searched him. That led to him finding a small bag of drugs, which is what he thought he would find. If anyone knows the law, essentially what was found in the search is usually thrown out because it was done illegally, but the court originally sided with the officer. It was overturned on appeal, and went to the Supreme Court, where they sided with the officer.

Now I am sure a lot of people are thinking why should this be a big deal? The guy was obviously guilty and the officer proved it. That logic is faulty, and the decision of the court to side with the police to break the law is a travesty, and this is why.

Mr. Strieff could have had the drugs before he walked into the house, or gotten them after leaving. He did enter and leave a convenience store before he was stopped. The officer had no proof he obtained them from the house, and suspicion is not justification for a search otherwise every single time the police stopped someone they would automatically search them on principle.

The police are always profiling people, and since they are always patrolling minority and poor neighborhoods, it is no surprise that they are really the only people ever searched. It should come as no surprise then that Chief Justice Roberts said that he has never even been stopped by a cop. How many of the rest of us could boast that? I certainly couldn’t. Hell, I have been stopped and interrogated in a small town for just walking down the damn street because of how I look.

We all know there is a strong racial motive behind some of this. Justice Thomas steers away from any hint of it, but Justice Sotomayor laid right into it when she delivered her dissent. In a world where minorities have to give their children “the talk” to make sure that that they are respectful and aware at all times of what they do so they are not accidentally killed by some cop with a gun, this ruling makes their lives even harder now by allowing the police to do these types of searches anytime they like.

That is an insane thought. Even if you don’t believe that this ruling won’t affect minorities or searches won’t become as prevalent as some believe, you should still be appalled by it. Justice Thomas in his decision often repeats that what the officer did was illegal, but it is justified because of the ends. So, the ends are going to justify the means. It doesn’t matter what the police do so long as they secure society from the scum. I am getting the feeling that he and his brothers in black robes can live with this so long as they are safe from the riff raff.

Isn’t that a step too far? Are we setting a precedent here? The Fourth Amendment is getting pretty thin as it is with all the allowances that the government has to spy on us. Adding another layer of police protection when they break the rules just insulates them further when they are already fairly impervious. It feels like the public’s cries for reforms of law enforcement and the justice system are falling on deaf ears.

Poor Richard Jr. is a college graduate with two degrees and more than thirty years writing experience who lives in the middle of somewhere, America. Inspired by some of the ideals and principles of the founding fathers, he wants to rejuvenate the country and bring about a more modern and equal society.
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