#191 The Supreme Court Takes A Stand Against The Drug War

Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2000
Subject: #191 The Supreme Court Takes A Stand Against The Drug War

The Supreme Court Takes A Stand Against The Drug War


DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 191 Sunday December 3, 2000

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that random road blocks for
drug searches are unconstitutional. This a relief to drug reformers
and anyone interested in maintaining basic civil liberties.

Several newspapers editorialized about the decision, and most looked
favorably at the ruling. Below is one particularly good editorial from
the San Jose Mercury News. Many of the other editorials weren’t as
strong as the Mercury News, but the number of editorials published so
far shows that this aspect of the drug war has hit a nerve even with
those who aren’t given to speaking against the drug war.

Please send a letter to one or all of the newspapers where editorials
and other articles have been published. Tell editors the Supreme Court
did the right thing in putting a stop on the police state tactic of
arbitrary drug checkpoints, but note that basic constitutional
freedoms are still under assault by other aspects of the drug war.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, Fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
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E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then
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and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com


Please also send your letter to one or several of the following
newspapers that printed editorials or other articles about the Supreme
Court ruling.

US IL: Column: A Rare Victory For The Right To Be Left Alone
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1793/a01.html
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)

US: U.S. Justices Halt Drug Roadblocks
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1789/a09.html
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Contact: letters@latimes.com

US: Supreme Court Bars Traffic Roadblocks Intended to Check for
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1785/a04.html
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Contact: letters@nytimes.com

US CA: Editorial: Supreme Court Removes A Roadblock to Rights
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1791/a05.html
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Contact: letters@sfchronicle.com

US GA: Editorial: A Win For Privacy
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1795/a09.html
Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2000
Contact: letted@savannahnow.com

US TX: Editorial: Random Ruling
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1794/a10.html
Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2000
Source: Times Record News (TX)
Contact: wilsonc@wtr.com

US IN: Editorial: The Right Decision On Indy Roadblocks
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1791/a08.html
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
Source: Indianapolis Star (IN)
Contact: stareditor@starnews.com

US IN: Editorial: What Did They Say?
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1794/a01.html
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: News-Sentinel (IN)
Contact: nsletters@news-sentinel.com

US CO: Editorial: Drug Roadblocks
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1794/a03.html
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: Durango Herald, The (US CO)
Contact: letters@durangoherald.com

US NC: OPED: The Court Got It Right
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1797/a07.html
Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Source: Goldsboro News-Argus (NC)
Contact: news@newsargus.com



US CA: Editorial: Improbable Cause
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1782/a05.html
Newshawk: Jane Marcus
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Jose Mercury News
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Address: 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
Fax: (408) 271-3792
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/

When Police Stop Every Vehicle At A Roadblock To Search For Drugs, That
Goes To Far, Supreme Court Rules

THERE’S a saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has never run into a
police roadblock it didn’t like. Checkpoints to intercept drunken
drivers? Sure. Stops to verify the licenses and registrations of
motorists? Fine. Highway blockades near the border to snatch illegal
immigrants? Those are legal too.

It looked as if law enforcement agents could use random roadblocks for
any reason. Constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches
and seizures didn’t appear to protect innocent people who happened to
be on the wrong road at the wrong time.

But no more. On Tuesday the justices finally put on the brakes. By
6-3, they said the police can’t intrude on the privacy of law-abiding
drivers to nab a handful of possible drug traffickers.

The case involved police officers in Indianapolis setting up big
dragnets to ferret out drug dealers. Stemming the flow of narcotics
into a city is an important and well-intentioned goal. But to carry it
out, the police would detain and question everyone driving by the
checkpoints. Motorists didn’t get to leave until the officer was
convinced that no drugs were hidden in the car.

Two innocent people caught up in these blockades sued. To stop them
and inspect their cars, the drivers argued, an officer should need a
good reason to suspect they’ve committed a crime. That kind of
warrantless search requires at least a suspicion that the individual
was breaking the law. The roadblocks allowed the police to skirt that
requirement based on a mere fear that drugs might be coming into a

“If this case were to rest on such a high level of generality,”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the court, “there would be
little check on the authorities’ ability to construct roadblocks for
almost any conceivable law enforcement purpose.”

Blockades designed to police the national border or ensure roadway
safety – — such as DUI checkpoints — are unaffected by Tuesday’s
decision. The court previously has said the Constitution permits those

Instead the ruling is an overdue reminder to law enforcement that
innocent people have some constitutional right to be left alone when
behind the wheel. And even this conservative court won’t allow the war
on drugs to change that.


To the editor:

It is heartening to see the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against random
drug checkpoints. For years the drug war has been used to invade the
privacy of all citizens. Want a job? You must prove yourself innocent
of drug crimes by submitting bodily fluids for analysis. Same thing if
you are a student hoping to join in an extracurricular activity. And
all students are subject to random searches by drug sniffing dogs,
while anyone who travels by bus may find themselves face to face with
a law enforcement officer who “requests” to search their personal belongings.

Since many illegal drug users look and act just like people who don’t
use illegal drugs, those would protect us from ourselves need to check
out everyone. While making people prove their innocence may catch some
drug users, it also allows authorities to scrutinize citizens without
any cause. The war on drugs is a also a war on personal privacy.

Stephen Young

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Prepared by Stephen Young – http://home.att.net/~theyoungfamily Focus
Alert Specialist