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Subject: 4th amendment slippery slope rss

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Chengkai Yang
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http://bigstory.ap.org/1ef09db1314f4d749a574b3dcb3e5871

TL;DR
A guy walking down the street is randomly stopped by the cops.
They ask his name and check for any outstanding warrants.
They find one.
When they arrest him they discover drugs on his person.
He is charged for the drugs and goes to jail.

Something about this feels like we're going down a very very bad road that will lead to the presumption of guilt over innocence. The decision from what I understand is based on the fact that the warrant breaks the chain of events from the initial stop and starts a new one that gives them the right to search him based on a separate cause. Still seems like fruit of a poisonous tree imo. Also allows them to target those of less economic means even more as stuff like unpaid parking tickets allows the removal of the protection of the 4th.
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Bad ruling. I think Sotomayor nailed it in her Dissent.

Just another example for not giving the cops your name unless they are putting you under arrest.

edit to add:

this is very telling from the article linked in the op:

Quote:
The issue is especially significant, Sotomayor said, because "outstanding warrants are increasingly common."

In one prominent example, the Justice Department's 2015 report that faulted police practices in Ferguson, Missouri, found that 16,000 of Ferguson's 21,000 residents had outstanding warrants.

Many of those outstanding warrants, like Strieff's, are for unpaid traffic fines — penalties that would not result in jail time.
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Les Marshall
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draxx01 wrote:
http://bigstory.ap.org/1ef09db1314f4d749a574b3dcb3e5871


Something about this feels like we're going down a very very bad road that will lead to the presumption of guilt over innocence. The decision from what I understand is based on the fact that the warrant breaks the chain of events from the initial stop and starts a new one that gives them the right to search him based on a separate cause. Still seems like fruit of a poisonous tree imo. Also allows them to target those of less economic means even more as stuff like unpaid parking tickets allows the removal of the protection of the 4th.


This is a terrible write up. The author doesn't give anything remotely like a proper reference to look up the decision nor does he attempt to analyze the "Attenuation Doctrine" upon with the majority of the court relies.

Not sure where you get the "presumption of guilt" line here. This decision had nothing to do with determining guilt or innocence and everything to do with procedure. While you correctly point out the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine you overlooked the "Attenuation" argument which inserted an intervening event. The SCOTUS recognized that no arrest occurred until a valid warrant was found and no search occurred until post arrest. There doesn't appear to be any argument here that the police would have had legitimate cause to arrest this man based solely on the warrant.

jmilum wrote:
Bad ruling. I think Sotomayor nailed it in her Dissent.

Just another example for not giving the cops your name unless they are putting you under arrest.

edit to add:

this is very telling from the article linked in the op:

Quote:
The issue is especially significant, Sotomayor said, because "outstanding warrants are increasingly common."

In one prominent example, the Justice Department's 2015 report that faulted police practices in Ferguson, Missouri, found that 16,000 of Ferguson's 21,000 residents had outstanding warrants.

Many of those outstanding warrants, like Strieff's, are for unpaid traffic fines — penalties that would not result in jail time.


Bad ruling in your opinion. I agree that withholding your name, especially if you know you might have a warrant is the brighter thing to do. However, your mention of the Ferguson warrant stats only serves to confuse the issue. There apparently was no evidence offered that this area of Utah had similar statistical ubiquity of warrants. Nor does there appear to have been an argument that local police overused warrants nor that his arrest was virtually inevitable due to overuse of warrants which argument might well have proved a more effective defense (especially if this had occurred in Ferguson).

The arrest warrant was an official record and available to the police. It was not some private document over which this fellow was entitled some privacy right, especially as against law enforcement. Carrying a warrant should actually generate a reasonable expectation that you might be arrested at any time.

This decision seems well within the possible interpretations of the court based on the arguments at bar.


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Rulesjd wrote:
Bad ruling in your opinion. I agree that withholding your name, especially if you know you might have a warrant is the brighter thing to do. However, your mention of the Ferguson warrant stats only serves to confuse the issue. There apparently was no evidence offered that this area of Utah had similar statistical ubiquity of warrants. Nor does there appear to have been an argument that local police overused warrants nor that his arrest was virtually inevitable due to overuse of warrants which argument might well have proved a more effective defense (especially if this had occurred in Ferguson).

But now this case can be used as precedent anywhere that's why Ferguson is relevant in how the ruling could now be abused

Quote:
The arrest warrant was an official record and available to the police. It was not some private document over which this fellow was entitled some privacy right, especially as against law enforcement. Carrying a warrant should actually generate a reasonable expectation that you might be arrested at any time.

I don't like giving the police any more incentive to break the law
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Les Marshall
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jmilum wrote:
Rulesjd wrote:
Bad ruling in your opinion. I agree that withholding your name, especially if you know you might have a warrant is the brighter thing to do. However, your mention of the Ferguson warrant stats only serves to confuse the issue. There apparently was no evidence offered that this area of Utah had similar statistical ubiquity of warrants. Nor does there appear to have been an argument that local police overused warrants nor that his arrest was virtually inevitable due to overuse of warrants which argument might well have proved a more effective defense (especially if this had occurred in Ferguson).

But now this case can be used as precedent anywhere that's why Ferguson is relevant in how the ruling could now be abused

Quote:
The arrest warrant was an official record and available to the police. It was not some private document over which this fellow was entitled some privacy right, especially as against law enforcement. Carrying a warrant should actually generate a reasonable expectation that you might be arrested at any time.

I don't like giving the police any more incentive to break the law


Sure, but cases are distinguishable based upon their unique facts. This decision does set a precedent but, it doesn't preclude the court from reaching a different decision in a fact pattern where the warrants themselves can be delegitimized--such as Ferguson.

I'm not a fan of incentivizing bad behavior by the police either. The argument certainly can be made that cops will be less concerned with probable cause to detain in the hopes of finding an active warrant to then justify a search. On the other hand risking an active investigation on such a gambit is of questionable value. In this instance, if the suspect had refused to give his name or simply didn't have a warrant the cops would have had no reason to search and may have blown their stakeout of the house for nothing.

As it stands cops routinely run warrant searches for traffic stops and other low level detentions. The behavior here wasn't exactly egregious though it did appear to be mistaken.
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The initial stop was not lawful, even the Justices in the majority agreed with that aspect.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Facts of the case:

Police were watching a house that had many complaints as a drug house.

Guy comes out. Cop stops him and asks for ID. Guy complies. Cop runs his name. Warrant appears. Cop is obligated to arrest him. Cop is obligated to search him after placing him under arrest.

You want to argue engaging people as they leave a drug house is some dangerous precedent. Could be. But it also seems like a no brainer, legal way to apply pressure to local drug dealers. I don't see any violation, it seems like common sense, well established police procedure.

The cops had information. If they knew the info was false, then you have a clear cut case. The cop appears to have been acting in good faith on information of ongoing criminal activity. The guy took active steps to waive his rights.

I would tend to agree. If they had arrested him for not giving his name, different story.

This is less a violation of his rights, then him not knowing them.
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Koldfoot wrote:
It was "a specific guy walking out of a specific, suspected drug house which had garnered complaints".

No, it was an unknown guy, else they wouldn't have asked his name.

Quote:
Consider. Had the cop done the same thing and framed it as investigation into activity at the house, asked the guy for his name and what was going on in the house, the guy freely gave his name, had a warrant, etc. What would have been different?

Nothing, except perhaps the guy would have asked if they had a warrant to enter the house. But likely not as he just freely gave his name.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Unknown does not equate to random.

Of course and I didn't say it did, but it also doesn't equate to 'specific' which was your assertion.
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J.D. Hall
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Koldfoot wrote:
Facts of the case:

Police were watching a house that had many complaints as a drug house.

Guy comes out. Cop stops him and asks for ID. Guy complies. Cop runs his name. Warrant appears. Cop is obligated to arrest him. Cop is obligated to search him after placing him under arrest.

You want to argue engaging people as they leave a drug house is some dangerous precedent. Could be. But it also seems like a no brainer, legal way to apply pressure to local drug dealers. I don't see any violation, it seems like common sense, well established police procedure.

The cops had information. If they knew the info was false, then you have a clear cut case. The cop appears to have been acting in good faith on information of ongoing criminal activity. The guy took active steps to waive his rights.


I'm with Brian on this, although reluctantly. The fact that the suspect had just exited a house where illegal narcotic-related activity was alleged (and under surveillance btw) gives the thinnest veneer of proper procedure to the arrest.

Had the suspect, as stated in the OP, been a "random guy" just walking down a "random street," then yeah, Sotomeyer's bile is 100% justified.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Can we agree that the cop was acting on specific and believable information?

If the information was unbelievable, and the police acted on it, the arrest is clearly invalid and would probably never made it into trial court?

It made it to the SCOTUS because there were legitimate issues with the arrest. The guy was stopped for an unlawful reason, but the court found that didn't invalidate the info later found from running his name and finding the outstanding warrant.

Consider if they lacked a warrant, but busted down the door anyway and found drugs after searching. I'm sure we can agree that would be invalid and should be thrown out.

In this case the court found that the initial unlawful stop wasn't a bad enough violation to throw out the rest.
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Koldfoot wrote:
jmilum wrote:
The initial stop was not lawful, even the Justices in the majority agreed with that aspect.

It was "a specific guy walking out of a specific, suspected drug house which had garnered complaints".

I think Koldie meant "specific" as in "individual", not "known".

I see two problems, pretty distinct.

First is that a parking ticket is elevated to a crime. Maybe the parking error was deliberate, maybe it was a just a mistake or an obscured sign. In any case, it's far too minor a matter to deprive anyone of any rights without a trial. (I realize this violates the whole copping for cash paradigm many jurisdictions use.) In California, parking tickets are infractions, a civil matter between the DMV and someone who wants to renew their license or registration; no officers are going to the extreme (and expensive) step of coming out to arrest you (but they used to, whence the newer system).

Second is the continuing erosion by the USSC of citizen-police trust. If citizens can't interact with police with some kind of assurance of proportional and trustworthy behavior, then police become the enemy. I particularly think of decisions allowing common police officers to lie and trick and (arguably) entrap people. If you don't know exactly what investigative line the police are on, it is always safer to say nothing and rely on your rights--which totally hamstrings the police.* While undercover investigations are needed, perhaps a good line would be that uniformed officers are not allowed to lie and their promises are binding; most people are happy enough to run their mouths, and that should be enough.

(*Example: you're pulled over and the police would like to do a blood alcohol test. You're taking a narcotic pain reliever [legal], had a poppy seed something for breakfasts [legal] with your vitamins [legal]. The police officer may say you're only being tested for alcohol, when they may do a full blood drug test showing [respectively] narcotics, heroin, and THC [some vitamins have minute quantities]; further, it could reveal medical conditions, against federal privacy law, and the DNA information could be archived forever. You cannot possibly evaluate that situation even if you're a lawyer; whatever the officer says, he may have been misinformed. If the officer could commit that only alcohol would be tested and the sample destroyed, then you could cooperate.)

(I also disagree with the "fruit of the poisoned tree" exclusionary rule. This punishes citizens in general for police misconduct. I'd like to see something like: officers get a $1000 raise per year, then for any search violation, a judge must fine them $100-$1000, depending on severity; and each time they get another violation within a year, the fine range doubles. So, even one bad mistake a year, they won't suffer for; but a pattern of playing fast and loose would be punished; they're rewarded for keeping policing clean. Reimbursing the fines would be a bribe, cop cashiered and briber jailed. That way citizens aren't punished for police misconduct, or just innocent errors.)
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Christopher Yaure
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
jmilum wrote:
The initial stop was not lawful, even the Justices in the majority agreed with that aspect.

It was "a specific guy walking out of a specific, suspected drug house which had garnered complaints".

I think Koldie meant "specific" as in "individual", not "known".

I see two problems, pretty distinct.

First is that a parking ticket is elevated to a crime. Maybe the parking error was deliberate, maybe it was a just a mistake or an obscured sign. In any case, it's far too minor a matter to deprive anyone of any rights without a trial. (I realize this violates the whole copping for cash paradigm many jurisdictions use.) In California, parking tickets are infractions, a civil matter between the DMV and someone who wants to renew their license or registration; no officers are going to the extreme (and expensive) step of coming out to arrest you (but they used to, whence the newer system).

Second is the continuing erosion by the USSC of citizen-police trust. If citizens can't interact with police with some kind of assurance of proportional and trustworthy behavior, then police become the enemy. I particularly think of decisions allowing common police officers to lie and trick and (arguably) entrap people. If you don't know exactly what investigative line the police are on, it is always safer to say nothing and rely on your rights--which totally hamstrings the police.* While undercover investigations are needed, perhaps a good line would be that uniformed officers are not allowed to lie and their promises are binding; most people are happy enough to run their mouths, and that should be enough.

(*Example: you're pulled over and the police would like to do a blood alcohol test. You're taking a narcotic pain reliever [legal], had a poppy seed something for breakfasts [legal] with your vitamins [legal]. The police officer may say you're only being tested for alcohol, when they may do a full blood drug test showing [respectively] narcotics, heroin, and THC [some vitamins have minute quantities]; further, it could reveal medical conditions, against federal privacy law, and the DNA information could be archived forever. You cannot possibly evaluate that situation even if you're a lawyer; whatever the officer says, he may have been misinformed. If the officer could commit that only alcohol would be tested and the sample destroyed, then you could cooperate.)

(I also disagree with the "fruit of the poisoned tree" exclusionary rule. This punishes citizens in general for police misconduct. I'd like to see something like: officers get a $1000 raise per year, then for any search violation, a judge must fine them $100-$1000, depending on severity; and each time they get another violation within a year, the fine range doubles. So, even one bad mistake a year, they won't suffer for; but a pattern of playing fast and loose would be punished; they're rewarded for keeping policing clean. Reimbursing the fines would be a bribe, cop cashiered and briber jailed. That way citizens aren't punished for police misconduct, or just innocent errors.)


I believe that your automatic raise and automatic fine is too gamey. An alternative would be to sue the police officer for violating your Constitutional rights, but the courts habv made that just about impossible.
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actuaryesquire wrote:
I believe that your automatic raise and automatic fine is too gamey. An alternative would be to sue the police officer for violating your Constitutional rights, but the courts habv made that just about impossible.

Many places, a jury would never convict and would annul the law. And, police officers would spend all their time defending against suits.

Leaving it up to a judge isn't perfect, but he has to decide if the violation occurred in the first place.

The exclusionary rule is corrosive. A juror has to assume he's not seeing all the evidence, so he's reduced to either trusting the prosecutor ("If he wasn't guilty he wouldn't be here") or always finding not guilty because he has a reasonable expectation that evidence has been hidden from him.
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Christopher Yaure
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Tall_Walt wrote:
actuaryesquire wrote:
I believe that your automatic raise and automatic fine is too gamey. An alternative would be to sue the police officer for violating your Constitutional rights, but the courts habv made that just about impossible.

Many places, a jury would never convict and would annul the law. And, police officers would spend all their time defending against suits.

Leaving it up to a judge isn't perfect, but he has to decide if the violation occurred in the first place.

The exclusionary rule is corrosive. A juror has to assume he's not seeing all the evidence, so he's reduced to either trusting the prosecutor ("If he wasn't guilty he wouldn't be here") or always finding not guilty because he has a reasonable expectation that evidence has been hidden from him.


My constitutional rights appear to be worth a lot more to me than yours are to you. Personally, I am a huge fan of the exclusionary rule.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Facts of the case:

Police were watching a house that had many complaints as a drug house.

Guy comes out. Cop stops him and asks for ID. Guy complies. Cop runs his name. Warrant appears. Cop is obligated to arrest him. Cop is obligated to search him after placing him under arrest.

You want to argue engaging people as they leave a drug house is some dangerous precedent. Could be. But it also seems like a no brainer, legal way to apply pressure to local drug dealers. I don't see any violation, it seems like common sense, well established police procedure.

The cops had information. If they knew the info was false, then you have a clear cut case. The cop appears to have been acting in good faith on information of ongoing criminal activity. The guy took active steps to waive his rights.



Sure. But one could also say that if a situation that doesn't justify a search results in an unrelated arrest (e.g. he violated no laws but had an outstanding warrant) then evidence found in the subsequent search can't be used as the basis for new charges. I'm agnostic on this case (having not reviewed it) but we don't have a binary choice of "don't engage people as they leave a drug house" and what happened.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
The exclusionary rule is corrosive. A juror has to assume he's not seeing all the evidence, so he's reduced to either trusting the prosecutor ("If he wasn't guilty he wouldn't be here") or always finding not guilty because he has a reasonable expectation that evidence has been hidden from him.


IANAL, but my impression is that excluded evidence is either always or almost always evidence that the defense wants kept out. Defense evidence is only excluded if the judge rules that it's irrelevant or misleading, but if the cops conduct an illegal search and find nothing the prosecutor can't try to keep that fact from the jury. For that reason, the logic that you should find not guilty because it's likely you haven't seen all the evidence is flawed.
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actuaryesquire wrote:
Tall_Walt wrote:
The exclusionary rule is corrosive. A juror has to assume he's not seeing all the evidence, so he's reduced to either trusting the prosecutor ("If he wasn't guilty he wouldn't be here") or always finding not guilty because he has a reasonable expectation that evidence has been hidden from him.

My constitutional rights appear to be worth a lot more to me than yours are to you. Personally, I am a huge fan of the exclusionary rule.

How about your right not to be killed because some police officer checked the wrong box?

I fully support the Fourth Amendment, indeed I think we've gone way too far away from it. But, the exclusionary rule is not the only way to handle violations, and for the reasons I've mentioned, I think it's a poor way to handle them.

In addition, under the rule, nothing discourages police from harassing people by violating the Fourth Amendment. It takes months in some jurisdictions to try a case and get it thrown out; meanwhile the supposed criminal has his life destroyed, and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money goes down the drain. And nothing keeps police from the very human behavior of assuming their search is okay or that they won't get caught. Cop or criminal, they're both human with the same cognitive blind spots.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
actuaryesquire wrote:
Tall_Walt wrote:
The exclusionary rule is corrosive. A juror has to assume he's not seeing all the evidence, so he's reduced to either trusting the prosecutor ("If he wasn't guilty he wouldn't be here") or always finding not guilty because he has a reasonable expectation that evidence has been hidden from him.

My constitutional rights appear to be worth a lot more to me than yours are to you. Personally, I am a huge fan of the exclusionary rule.

How about your right not to be killed because some police officer checked the wrong box?

I fully support the Fourth Amendment, indeed I think we've gone way too far away from it. But, the exclusionary rule is not the only way to handle violations, and for the reasons I've mentioned, I think it's a poor way to handle them.

In addition, under the rule, nothing discourages police from harassing people by violating the Fourth Amendment. It takes months in some jurisdictions to try a case and get it thrown out; meanwhile the supposed criminal has his life destroyed, and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money goes down the drain. And nothing keeps police from the very human behavior of assuming their search is okay or that they won't get caught. Cop or criminal, they're both human with the same cognitive blind spots.


I was a juror on a trial where a poor man who couldn't make bail had spent 8 and a half months in jail before his "speedy" trial. The only witness against him was a convicted felon who casually referred to brandishing his gun during testimony who had an ongoing bad relationship with the accused. It was trivially obvious that the felon couldn't have seen what he said he saw from his porch. The apartment complex map showed you had to draw lines thru buildings to get line of sight to where the fire was started. Eight and a half months. Innocent. No compensation.
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I like this ruling. Here's why.

The original stop was bad. Whatever they stopped him for didn't have cause. But that doesn't really matter to the point of the traffic warrant they found when they ran his name. Traffic warrants exist because there needs to be something done if people won't pay their tickets. They're a good thing. In this case, now this man has to be arrested.

There is no evidence gathered from the stop that led to the man's arrest. He already had a warrant out for him. So the bad stop doesn't invalidate the arrest, and shouldn't. And so the rest of the stuff follows and is just fine.

However, if the stop itself leads to the evidence giving cause to the arrest, then we have a problem and all the evidence goes away.

Now, the courts need to figure out how we take care of police officers who stop people who should not be stopped in the first place, but nobody in power seems interested in that.
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Christopher Yaure
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Walt - Your comment evokes many thoughts for me, but I'll limit myself to a single pertinent quote, which drives my views on this and many similar matters:

Quote:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
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Jythier wrote:
There is no evidence gathered from the stop that led to the man's arrest.

Sure there was: the guy's name and the fact that he had an outstanding warrant.
 
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Also there's a difference between engaging someone and DETAINING someone. In the second situation, it is clear to all involved that the person is not free to go, whether it's because they're in cuffs or because the officer has their license, or even standing in their way and not moving. Not every police interaction is detaining.
 
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jmilum wrote:
Jythier wrote:
There is no evidence gathered from the stop that led to the man's arrest.

Sure there was: the guy's name and the fact that he had an outstanding warrant.


He had an outstanding warrant whether they stopped him or not.
 
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Christopher Yaure
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Jythier wrote:


Now, the courts need to figure out how we take care of police officers who stop people who should not be stopped in the first place, but nobody in power seems interested in that.


The Utah Supreme Court and three of the eight US Supreme Court Justices were.

One of the best ways to ensure police do not encroach on our civil liberties is to give them crystal clear rules to follow in what is a high-stress job requiring split-second decisions, often with their lives in danger. Justice Thomas repeatedly has voted to create difficult to apply standards that increase the likelihood the police will engage in such encroachment. Of course, as a Justice he has opined that children, students, and prisoners have no Constitutional rights.

I am not quite sure what it is that makes him a conservative given his propensity to increase the power of government and limit the rights of citizens.
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