(Sorry it’s all copy paste. I dunno why I hadn’t seen this outrage earlier, but I’ve been putting a new police state post together, partially in preparation for this morning’s ruling from the bench in the trial of Caesar Goodson, who’d faced the most serious charges in the nickel-ride murder of Freddie Gray.)
‘The Supreme Court Just Ruled In Favor Of The Police State, And Sonia Sotomayor Is Not Having It; She lashed out at “lawless police conduct” that disproportionately targets black and brown Americans’ via HuffPo
“WASHINGTON — In a powerful dissent to a Supreme Court ruling that took an expansive view of the limits the Constitution places on police misconduct, Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday seemed to address the people most affected by unfortunate encounters with the police — black and brown Americans.
“Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong,” Sotomayor wrote in the opening paragraph of her response to Utah v. Strieff, which the court decided in a 5-3 vote.
The case had asked the justices to decide whether evidence uncovered during an unlawful police stop could be used against the person in possession of it — a question that requires an interpretation of the Fourth Amendment‘s prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“In his search for lawbreaking, the officer in this case himself broke the law.”’
Mark Stern at Slate: ‘Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonment’
“The Department of Justice, Sotomayor writes, “recently reported that in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, with a population of 21,000, 16,000 people had outstanding warrants against them.” That means 76 percent of Ferguson residents have, under the court’s decision, effectively surrendered their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure. “In the St. Louis metropolitan area,” moreover, “officers ‘routinely’ stop people—on the street, at bus stops, or even in court—for no reason other than ‘an officer’s desire to check whether the subject had a municipal arrest warrant pending.’ ”
(Writing only for herself, not the minority):
“This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you. When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens. Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more.
The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. … If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then “frisk” you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.”
The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop. If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or “driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seatbelt fastened.” At the jail, he can fingerprint you, swab DNA from the inside of your mouth, and force you to “shower with a delousing agent” while you “lift [your] tongue, hold out [your] arms, turn around, and lift [your] genitals.” Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the “civil death” of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check. And, of course, if you fail to pay bail or appear for court, a judge will issue a warrant to render you “arrestable on sight” in the future.
“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”
‘Injustice’ by Bill Day