By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
6.20.16: Philadelphia – (Politics): Along with the first day of summer in America came two extraordinary and irresponsible acts of government; both political decisions made on Monday are projected to have a negative impact on Americans, and moreover, the choices made by officials help to frame the discussion on whether certain rights within the Constitution of the United States deserve more protection than others.
Since the U.S Supreme Court in 1968 issued its ruling in the case Terry v. Ohio, the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure, has begun a slow diluting process.
The landmark case, which gave validation to the policing practice known as stop-and-frisk, upheld forcible detentions (stops) and searches (frisk) on less than the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause. In 2015, soon after the controversial arrest of Mr. Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the Supreme Court ruled that running away from a police officer in a high-crime area constitutes reasonable suspicion, though the same wouldn’t be true in a relatively safe (affluent) neighborhood.
In 2016, the Supreme Court appears to have finally taken the Fourth Amendment out of its misery by issuing a 5-3 decision in Utah v. Strieff, which now allows evidence unearthed during an illegal stop (one absent of reasonable suspicion) to be admissible in court if the American stopped has a warrant for their arrest. More than just a decimation of the Fourth Amendment, the ruling will exacerbate mass incarceration at a time where many American cities, like Philadelphia, are aiming to reduce their prison populations.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and wrote a fierce critique of the ruling, which in part reads:
“…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.”
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Waiting in the wings Monday night ready to take center stage upon the conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s delivery of bad news to the public was the United States Senate, which had its own tragic narrative to bestow upon Americans: all four gun control measures up for a vote in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, including one which would prohibit someone on the terror watch-list from buying a gun, failed to pass.
In response to the news, Senator Chris Murphy, who last week led a 15-hour filibuster on gun control, said “Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.”
Senator Murphy further added:
“ISIS has decided that the assault weapon is the new airplane and Republicans, in refusing to close the terror gap, refusing to pass ban on assault weapons, are allowing these weapons to get in the hands of potential lone-wolf attackers.”
According to Mediate, Republicans have argued that it’s a dangerous slippery slope to deprive Americans of their liberties because the government put them on a list due to suspicions. However, Republicans I notice have been mute regarding Utah v. Strieff and how the ruling will further deprive Americans of their liberties because of (reasonable) suspicions.
Monday, June 20th, was a shameful day for American politics. The aforementioned political decisions served only to inflame tensions and emotions in communities across the nation and did nothing to ensure public safety and that all of the constitutional rights of Americans will be safeguarded.
By conceding on the Fourth Amendment but remaining stubborn on the Second, the American government is telling its people that their constitutional rights are separate but unequal.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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