DownsizeDCFoundation.org
August 16, 2011
Two Supreme Court Victories
By James Wilson

Most days you receive the Downsizer-Dispatch from DownsizeDC.org, but this one comes from the Downsize DC Foundation...

Your funding allowed the Downsize DC Foundation to file influential briefs that contributed to two victories at the Supreme Court.  

Here's what YOU won from the Supreme Court in Arizona Free Enterprise v Bennett (Arizona).... 

The days where you'll be forced to fund candidates you oppose are numbered.

At issue in the Arizona case was a law that permitted coercive, taxpayer funding of candidates. This law also rewarded candidates with additional taxpayer funding to match the success of their opponent's grassroots fundraising efforts. Thus...

Ideas that are less popular could actually get more government funding!

We argued that previous Court decisions created strict guidelines for funding campaigns with tax money, and that the Arizona law violated these guidelines. A majority of the Court agreed.

Even Justice Kagan, in her dissent, agreed that the Arizona law violated previous court rulings. But she believes the solution is to get rid of the remaining Constitutional limitations and allow more State coercion. We think Kagan's admission that tax-funded campaigns cannot work unless the State takes over all campaign funding is startling. We think it actually signals the coming end of all tax funding for campaigns. 

We want to continue funding briefs that push for this outcome. Please help us do this.

But we also have a SECOND VICTORY to report.... 

Does the state have a right to stalk you?

Do you want to live in a world where police can track your every move, waiting for you to do something wrong? Do you want to live under that burden of suspicion?

Working with several other groups, we submitted a brief asking the Court to hear the case of Antoine Jones (United States v. Antoine Jones). You can read our brief here (pdf):

The victory is that the Court has agreed to hear the case, but now we need to win the case itself. Here's what's at issue....

The police wanted to find evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Jones, so they attached a GPS device to his car. They recorded his every move, and then sifted through the data looking for evidence of a crime. 

The right to be secure in your persons, papers, and effects, from unreasonable searches and seizures was, traditionally, a property right. If the government wanted the power to "search and seize," then officials, armed with probable cause, were required to swear out an affidavit, demonstrating that they had a "superior property interest." Under the "Mere Evidence Rule," that meant that either the TARGETED property was...

1. An instrument of the crime
2. Fruit from the crime
3. Contraband

Clearly, a "fishing expedition" using a GPS tracker doesn't fall under any of these categories. Sadly, Justice William Brennan ended the property rights protection in 1968 in Warden v. Hayden, arguing that the Fourth Amendment only protects a right to privacy. Brennan even admitted that this interpretation would lead to more searches, but claimed that we shouldn't be too concerned about that.

Brennan's reasoning was part of a long-term Left-Statist campaign to de-emphasize property rights, so that the Federal State could regulate and control more economic activity. This is why many decisions that should have been based on property rights, have been based on privacy rights instead.

Well, it's time to worry, because this scheme is undermining traditional civil liberties!

Judges and law enforcement officials have not only exploited Brennan's logic to destroy property rights, they've also extended it, arguing that new technology has made privacy rights obsolete too.

But can mere technology really abolish an inalienable right?

To counter these toxic lines of thought, our attorneys (as is their habit) want to file a brief making a unique argument. They want to directly challenge 43 years of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence by submitting the ONLY brief to argue that....

You have a right to your privacy AND your property!

It's NEVER okay to attach a surveillance device to a personal vehicle for a fishing expedition.

It's wrong for The State to believe it can track and monitor your movements without probable cause.

Is this a real concern? Could YOU be targeted this way?

Julian Sanchez, who follows these matters for the Cato Institute, suspects it is already happening on a large scale, thanks to a classified legal interpretation of the Patriot Act.

Others agree, including

This is why, even though we believe in a right to privacy, our attorneys have argued for the restoration of the Fourth Amendment as a property right. Privacy alone is an insufficient shield. Americans also have a right to be secure in their property.

So we have a decision to make. Do we participate with an amicus brief in this case? Should we ensure that the members of the Court are exposed to these arguments?

That will require money. We have partners, but we need an overwhelming response today. Seriously, we need at least one person willing to donate $1,000, and we need more than 60 responses to this appeal.

Every donor to this brief, who includes their email address in the contribution, will receive a pdf of the brief we submit to Supreme Court. And every donor of $200 or more will get the same printed and bound version we send to the Supreme Court.

And your contribution to this effort by the Downsize DC Foundation is tax-deductible.

This is an important opportunity. We have a chance to communicate with the nine Justices.

ONLY we will argue for restoring the property-based understanding of the Fourth Amendment.

Our brief ALONE will insist on the restoration of the Mere Evidence rule.

We will submit the SOLE brief that will make the bold case that "fishing expedition" GPS tracking is facially unconstitutional.

...IF the brief gets written. Our ability to act depends on YOU.

Jim Babka
President
Downsize DC Foundation 

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