Tag Archives: Fourth Amendment

Kansas Newspaper Co-Owner Dies as Press Defenders Decry ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Raid on Home, Office

One columnist said that “it is not hyperbole to say that this attack on the people’s right to know appears to have killed” 98-year-old Joan Meyer.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 8-13-2023 by Common Dreams

The Marion County Record confirmed the death of the newspaper’s co-owner on August 13, 2023. 
(Photo: screenshot/Marion County Record)

Advocacy groups and reporters across the United States have sounded the alarm throughout the weekend about a legally dubious police raid on Friday targeting the Marion County Record office and the publisher’s Kansas home in an alleged identity theft investigation—events that the newspaper said contributed to the death of the elderly co-owner.

“Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after illegal police raids on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office Friday, 98-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home,” the outlet reported.

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More Proof of FBI Abuse Sparks Calls for Congress to Stop Warrantless Spying

“Government self-policing will never be an adequate substitute for the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement,” said one expert as U.S. lawmakers consider whether to reauthorize or reform Section 702.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 7-22-2023 by Common Dreams

FBI Director Christopher Wray discusses the importance of lawful access during an October 4, 2019 summit on the issue at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: FBI

Privacy advocates renewed calls for swift congressional action to rein in warrantless spying on Americans following the Friday release of documents showing U.S. law enforcement’s further misuse of a powerful surveillance tool.

“These disturbing new revelations show how Section 702 surveillance, a spy program the government claims is focused on foreign adversaries, is routinely used against Americans, immigrants, and people who are not accused of any wrongdoing,” said Patrick Toomey, deputy director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in a statement.

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‘Shocking’: FBI Director Admits Agency Purchased Geolocation Data of Americans

“Congress must fix this before considering any reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act this year,” said one advocate.

By Julia Conley  Published 3-8-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Plann on Pexels

Privacy advocates on Wednesday said testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray at a U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing offers the latest evidence that Congress must take action to keep the government from performing mass surveillance on people across the United States, as Wray admitted the bureau has purchased cellphone geolocation data from companies.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Wray at a hearing about national security threats whether the FBI purchases “U.S. phone geolocation information,” showing the location of users. Continue reading

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Privacy isn’t in the Constitution – but it’s everywhere in constitutional law

Who’s allowed to watch what you do and say?
Shannon Fagan/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Scott Skinner-Thompson, University of Colorado Boulder

Almost all American adults – including parents, medical patients and people who are sexually active – regularly exercise their right to privacy, even if they don’t know it.

Privacy is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But for half a century, the Supreme Court has recognized it as an outgrowth of protections for individual liberty. As I have studied in my research on constitutional privacy rights, this implied right to privacy is the source of many of the nation’s most cherished, contentious and commonly used rights – including the right to have an abortion – until the court’s June 24, 2022, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. Continue reading

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‘Endangers Us All’: Supreme Court Ruling Shields Border Agent From Excessive Force Lawsuit

The ruling leaves thousands of Border Patrol agents “absolutely immunized from liability,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “no matter how egregious the misconduct or resultant injury.”

By Julia Conley   Published 6-9-2022 by Common Dreams

ERO Cross Check 2017. Photo: ICE/flickr/public domain

A ruling by the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday “will have far-reaching consequences” for people who accuse federal agents of violating their constitutional rights, the ACLU warned after the court ruled against a man who wanted to sue a U.S. Border Patrol agent who entered his property without a warrant and used excessive force.

The court ruled 6-3 in Egbert v. Boule that Congress must decide whether the plaintiff can sue the government over the alleged violation of his rights—a decision which Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion threatens to block nearly all civil suits against federal agents. Continue reading

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27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI ‘Backdoor Search’ Loophole

“Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans’ privacy rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2021

Demonstrators march in protest against government mass surveillance in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2013. Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/CC

Over two dozen advocacy groups on Monday sent a letter urging members of Congress to back a measure that, if enacted, would close the so-called “backdoor search” loophole that allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens’ data by government agencies including the FBI and CIA.

The letter (pdf), led by Demand Progress and signed by 27 groups, calls on House leaders to support an amendment to H.R. 4505—the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022—proposed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn ‘Qualified Immunity’

“Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2020

Image: change.org

Handing down a ruling to dismiss a civil lawsuit which alleged a police officer violated a Black man’s Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi made clear that he sided with the plaintiff—and demanded the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legal precedent that makes it nearly impossible for the judicial system to hold officers accountable for rights violations. 

Calling for an end to qualified immunity, which dates back to a 1982 ruling and shields police from civil liability in most cases, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves turned his ruling into a plea for justice for plaintiff Clarence Jamison as well as countless other Black Americans who have faced violent abuse and deadly use of force by officers. Continue reading

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1,250 Former DOJ Officials Demand Investigation Into Barr’s Involvement in Violently Dispersing Demonstrators Near White House

“None of us would ever have considered directing or engaging in such actions to be consistent with our oaths to support and defend the Constitution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2020

Screenshot: WUSA9

More than 1,250 former Department of Justice employees on Wednesday called on the department’s inspector general to open an investigation into reports that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered the tear-gassing of protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 1.

The former employees wrote that Inspector General Michael Horowitz must get to the bottom of Barr’s involvement in the dispersing of the crowd, which was part of the nationwide uprising against racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Continue reading

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