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Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

Is This The Beginning Of The End For Gun Control? | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on December 19, 2021

The question presented is: “Whether the Constitution allows the government to prohibit law-abiding, responsible citizens from protecting themselves, their families, and their homes with a type of “Arms” that are in common use for lawful purposes?”

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/beginning-end-gun-control

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler DurdenFriday, Dec 17, 2021 – 11:55 PM

Submitted by The Machine Gun Nest (TMGN).,

If you haven’t heard yet, Firearms Policy Coalition has filed what may be one of the most critical petitions for writ of certiorari for Marylanders and possibly gun owners in general in the case Bianchi v. Frosh. The case itself centers around the Maryland “Assault Weapons Ban” (AWB), also known as SB281 or the Firearms Safety Act of 2013. 

But before we dive into the law itself, let’s look at the question being proposed to the Supreme Court in this writ of certiorari. The question presented is: “Whether the Constitution allows the government to prohibit law-abiding, responsible citizens from protecting themselves, their families, and their homes with a type of “Arms” that are in common use for lawful purposes?”The way this question is asked, we can see that if decided in favor of gun owners, the overturning of the Maryland AWB would be an unprecedented victory for gun owners nationwide. A Repudiation of assault weapon bans would free states like California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey from their tyrannical state governments who’ve imposed their versions of this “Assault Weapon Ban.” FPC’s Adam Kraut affirmed that position saying, “This case presents the Court with an ideal vehicle to both address the scope of protected arms and constitutionally infirm analysis applied by these recalcitrant lower courts.”The petition correctly describes the term “Assault Weapons” as a “pejorative and inaccurate label for a category of common semi-automatic firearms.” Then quoting directly from Heller goes on to describe those same firearms as “in common use” and “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”Maryland’s AWB is an assortment of inconsistent rules and regulations thought up by bureaucrats in Annapolis who have little understanding of firearms they seek to regulate. A few examples of inconsistencies: AK pattern rifle chambered in 7.62×39? Banned. AK pattern rifle chambered in 5.45×39? Good to go. AK Pistol in 7.62×39? Good to go. The only difference between the banned rifle and pistol? The stock.It also bans the AR15 and other “Scary” looking rifles but allows AR15s that conform to a Heavy Barrel Profile, or HBAR. It also allows for rifles that are functionally identical to the AR15, like the Ruger Mini 14.Ultimately, we won’t know if the Supreme Court will hear the case until sometime in 2022, as The Supreme Court will hear it in their 2022 session. But the chances are good for the Court to take this case up. Many of the Justices have signaled that they’re ready to hear 2nd Amendment cases. If the recent NYSRPA v. Bruen is any indication, we will likely see them tackle more gun rights issues that have far-reaching implications.Also, the makeup of the Court has changed in recent years. With the addition of Amy Comey Barrett replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court has a solid conservative majority. As lower court judges, Justice Barrett and Justice Kavanaugh signaled they think courts need to rethink the framework used to often measure how gun regulations are evaluated. This framework is known as “Intermediate Scrutiny.” When intermediate scrutiny is applied, a law has more of a chance to survive legal challenges because the government must prove only that it is “substantially related to an important government interest.”This intermediate scrutiny clause is what has kept not only the Maryland Assault Weapon ban in place but many other AWBs nationwide. If the Justices are looking for a case that has far-reaching consequences for the 2nd Amendment and the process by which states uphold these unconstitutional laws, they need look no further than Bianchi v. Frost.This is why I posed the question: “Is this the beginning of the end for gun control?”In our coverage of gun control issues over the past year, we’ve seen a clear pathway that the anti-gun lobby is taking. Using the NFA, 1968 GCA, FOPA, and other gun control laws on the books, they’ve managed to ban Bump Stocks and inch closer and closer to regulating semi-automatic firearms under the NFA or outright ban them. This Case, Bianchi v. Frost, would put a significant roadblock in front of that.

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A Republic, Not a Democracy

Posted by M. C. on December 19, 2021

The design of our constitutional republic, for better or worse, was to protect individual liberties and private property by limiting the power of government. That’s why leftists hate it.

by Scott McPherson

Late-night political hack and former comedian Stephen Colbert doesn’t usually warrant any notice, but he stumbled onto an important truth recently. Lamenting the possibility that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, he whined that if only 27 percent of Americans (according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll) support such a move, and the court doesn’t vote the way he and a majority of Americans prefer, “We don’t live in a democracy.”Democracy or a republic? I say: Let’s restore our founding system — a republic — to our land. That would be something to celebrate.
[Click to Tweet]

But we weren’t supposed to live in a democracy. We were supposed to live in a republic.

A story, probably apocryphal, is told that upon exiting the Pennsylvania statehouse at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Ben Franklin was approached by a passerby. “What have you given us,” the woman asked him. “A republic, if you can keep it,” he replied. While the word “republic” to a Democrat is like a cross to a vampire, it is unquestionably the type of government the Founders created in our Constitution. The design of our constitutional republic, for better or worse, was to protect individual liberties and private property by limiting the power of government. That’s why leftists hate it.

The word “democracy” does not even appear in the Constitution, nor does it appear in that document’s philosophical antecedent, the Declaration of Independence, which stated boldly the revolutionary idea that everyone is “endowed” with unalienable rights – to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This assertion upended the idea that individuals were mere “subjects” beholden to their betters, cogs in a machine worthy of consideration only insofar as they served the purposes of the elite. The Framers wanted regular elections, but that was simply a peaceful means to eject recalcitrant politicians acting against the interests of the people.

Anti-democratic mechanisms were consciously built into the Constitution. Inspired by an eighteenth-century French political philosopher named Baron de Montesquieu, a system of checks and balances was established. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches were created, each with the ability to stymie the others. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, elected directly by the people, could pass legislation, but it could die in the Senate; a bill passed through both chambers faces a potential veto from the president, chosen via an Electoral College, not popular vote, and a super majority is required to override that veto. Finally, despite overwhelming support, courts can strike down any law that violates the Constitution.

Interestingly, in a recent report that could easily have been written by a member of the Democratic Party, the Chinese Foreign Ministry specifically highlighted this as proof of our system’s alleged failure. It read in part, “The U.S. political system has far too many checks and balances, raising the cost of collective action and in some cases making it impossible altogether. . . . There is an entrenched political paralysis in the U.S.” [Emphasis added]

This analysis, meant as a criticism, is actually very revealing. Afterall, when Communists are upset about something, it’s likely good for individual freedom! Leftists get misty-eyed when talking about “democracy,” claiming they simply want to “empower” the “common people,” but the truth is they despise voters and are happy with the electoral process only when things go their way. Witness their reaction to the recent election in Virginia, which leftwing commentators denounced as “racist” – despite the victory of a female black immigrant (!) in her run for lieutenant governor. The long-serving president of the state senate in New Jersey was defeated by a truck driver, in his first bid for public office. The left-wing Atlantic smeared his victory as “populist moonshine.” Arch-“progressive” Hillary Clinton claims – oblivious to the irony – that a Trump victory in the 2024 election will spell  “the end of our democracy.”

The Framers wanted it to be difficult to pass laws. They also wanted the sphere in which government acted to be quite small, enumerating the limited powers of Congress in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. Further protections are found in the Bill of Rights—the 10 amendments to the Constitution forbidding government from infringing the rights of Americans -– even with majority approval. For example, the First Amendment shields unpopular speech from criminal prosecution – no matter what; the Sixth Amendment guarantees that a criminal defendant will be tried by an impartial jury – not by popular opinion or by vengeful government officials; the Eighth Amendment protects the worst offender against “cruel and unusual punishment,” even if the mob wants his head on a pike.

Democracy or a republic? I say: Let’s restore our founding system — a republic — to our land. That would be something to celebrate.

This post was written by: Scott McPherson

Scott McPherson is a policy adviser at the Future of Freedom Foundation, and author of Freedom and Security: The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. An advocate of the Free State Project, he lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Watch “The Constitution and Economic Liberty” on YouTube-Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on December 6, 2021

https://youtu.be/1kTH8X7e0Es

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Government

Posted by M. C. on December 5, 2021

May be an image of text that says 'CIVICS: The Government does not grant rights. 101-1 The Government has no RIGHT to grant ANYTHING. In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people- The Government has PRIVILEGES granted to it by the PEOPLE! The Constitution was written to PROTECT the People's Rights from the Government, and to tell the Government what privileges it was granted by its people.'

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Why Trials Are Better Than Plea Bargains | Cato at Liberty Blog

Posted by M. C. on November 20, 2021

But at least that disagreement will be an informed one based on the evidence presented in a public jury trial, just as the Founders intended. We are deprived of that opportunity for civic engagement every time a case is resolved through a guilty plea instead of the public jury trial that the Constitution wisely provides. The time is long overdue for us to take a fresh look at our decision to pursue efficiency in the adjudication of criminal charges through coercive plea bargaining to the exclusion of every other constitutional value.

https://www.cato.org/blog/why-trials-are-better-plea-bargains

By Clark Neily

Surprising almost no one, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse prosecution returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges, including intentional and reckless homicide. The verdict may be unsurprising given how the trial unfolded, with a singularly unimpressive prosecution team making one blunder after another and a trial judge who some perceived to be unduly favorable to the defense, but it will nevertheless strike many people as inappropriate and even unjust in light of all the circumstances.

But as I argue in a piece published in the Washington Examiner hours before the verdict came down, the most important—and unusual—thing about the Rittenhouse case was the fact that it went to trial at all. That’s unusual because more than 95 percent of criminal convictions in our system are the product not of constitutionally prescribed jury trials, but instead of an ad hoc, extra‐​constitutional, and often jaw‐​droppingly coercive process that we refer to euphemistically as “plea bargaining.” As explained in the Examiner piece, plea bargaining has been an absolute train wreck of a policy that regularly produces false convictions and puts the government in the historically squalid and abuse‐​prone role of inducing people to condemn themselves.

Given the sheer amount of attention they devoted to trial by jury (among other things, it’s the only right mentioned both in the body of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), the Framers’ intent to put citizen participation at the very heart of the administration of criminal justice is unmistakable. It was also incredibly wise because allowing government actors (including particularly judges and prosecutors) to dictate the results of criminal prosecutions represents a short and slippery slope to tyranny. Indeed, in a piece for Cato’s Policy Report, I compared the effect that the near‐​total elimination of jury trials has had on the criminal justice system to the effect that the extinction of a keystone species like honeybees would have on the ecosystem: complete and utter disaster.

In sum, reasonable people can and will disagree about whether Kyle Rittenhouse was guilty or innocent. But at least that disagreement will be an informed one based on the evidence presented in a public jury trial, just as the Founders intended. We are deprived of that opportunity for civic engagement every time a case is resolved through a guilty plea instead of the public jury trial that the Constitution wisely provides. The time is long overdue for us to take a fresh look at our decision to pursue efficiency in the adjudication of criminal charges through coercive plea bargaining to the exclusion of every other constitutional value.

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What Spooner Can Teach Us in Our Age of Neofascism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 24, 2021

Lysander Spooner argued that there is “no treason” against the Constitution because it has no authority over Americans. Another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, and a powerful rejoinder to the neofascism of the hour, should be neo-Spoonerism: there is no treason against the federal government, because the federal government does not abide by the document which it claims as its foundational authority to govern.

https://mises.org/wire/what-spooner-can-teach-us-our-age-neofascism

Jason Morgan

Mises Wire readers are probably familiar with nineteenth-century American proto-libertarian Lysander Spooner (1808–87). Spooner’s radical challenges to statism are best summed up by the title of Murray Rothbard’s edited collection of Spooner’s greatest writings: Let’s Abolish Government. Spooner was a great American, an anarchist committed to the free administration of justice, anticollectivism, dismantling slavery, and preventing the federal government from setting up a new kind of nationwide statist enslavement on the ruins of the wartorn South.

Lysander Spooner’s most prominent work is probably his post–Civil War tract No Treason. Spooner wrote No Treason to argue that secession from the federal union is no crime.

Of this work, section 6, “The Constitution of No Authority,” stands out. In “The Constitution of No Authority,” Spooner saps the battlements of the federal edifice, the Constitution itself. The Constitution, he writes, is at best a contract, and even then at best a contract among the very few “who had already come to years of discretion” living at the time who were consulted on the document. The Constitution begins with “We, the People,” but Spooner pulled the curtain back on that rhetoric to argue that “the People” could mean, at most, the people alive and of majority age who had some say in how and when the document was signed and ratified. That is all.

The Constitution,” Spooner writes, “so far as it was their contract [referring to the handful of people with a hand in making the document], died with them.” The entire sentence is emphasized in the original. Lest anyone miss the meaning, Spooner begins the section with his conclusion: “The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation.”

In other words, no one living in Spooner’s time, approaching a century since the Constitution was hammered out and inked at the bottom, can be said to be engaged in unconstitutional acts. Because there is no Constitution, Spooner says. Whatever it was, it ended when the people who signed it passed from the scene. The framers “had no natural power or right to make [the Constitution] obligatory upon their children,” he writes. Americans cannot and should not be bound by contracts which some people made among themselves long ago.

In short, because there is no Constitution, there is “no treason.”

(As for the arguments that voting and paying taxes count as tacit agreements to participate in the Constitution’s imagined governmental regime, Spooner demurs. People could vote without a Constitution as well as with one, he says, and paying taxes is akin to being the victim of highway robbery, to which no person would consent if he had the choice. So, neither voting nor paying taxes implies a personal ratification of the parchment from 1789.)

Spooner’s pioneering arguments against organized theft known as centralized government are especially powerful in our time. I would love to have read Spooner’s assessment of the 2020 “election,” for example, and his views on the “stimulus,” inflation, shortages, counterfeiting, polymorphic infrastructure, and imperialist boondoggles which the 1789 Constitution has placidly overseen. I think Spooner might have said, in a Massachusetts deadpan, “There is no treason in checking out of that mess. There is no reason not to.”

But if Lysander Spooner were alive today, and were reprising “The Constitution of No Authority,” he might take much farther some of the elements found in his original work. He might push his arguments so far as to give rise to a new kind of Spoonerism, a neo-Spoonerism. I think this neo-Spoonerism would be the natural complement to the original. For the obverse of the Constitution’s having no authority is the plain fact that no one who purports to uphold the Constitution actually does so. Not only is the document itself void—not a single soul among us having signed it, as Spooner argues at great length. But even if “We the People” had signed such a contract, it would still be void, because the counterparty, namely the government, has violated, I think it is no stretch to say, every single promise and clause. The Constitution is invalid on its face, and invalidated by egregious and habitual breach.

Spooner points this out in a narrowcast way in “The Constitution of No Authority.” He writes:

It is no exaggeration, but a literal truth, to say that, by the Constitution—not as I interpret it, but as it is interpreted by those who pretend to administer it—the properties, liberties, and lives of the entire people of the United States are surrendered unreservedly into the hands of men who, it is provided by the Constitution itself, shall never be ‘questioned’ as to any disposal they make of them. (pp. 22-23; emphasis in original)

The Constitution creates an absurdity, Spooner argues, in which the document claiming to safeguard our liberties makes us the “property” (Spooner’s term) of the government. On the Constitution’s own terms, the Constitution does the opposite of what it purports. This, too, Spooner says, is a mark against anyone’s having to abide by it.

But let us take a much broader view of the Constitution and its applications. Much has changed since Spooner’s day. Do those who claim constitutional authority abide by the Constitution? Do they legitimately work within the confines of the document which we are to believe gives them the right to govern “the People”? If they do not—that is, if the government itself does not follow the Constitution—then there is a second powerful argument extending from Spooner’s original insights and reinforcing them.

This is neo-Spoonerism, as I call it, or the argument that the Constitution has no authority in the broad sense as well as the narrow. Not only does the Constitution fail on the technical charges Spooner brought against it, such as that no one living today signed it and that the government which the Constitution sets up is the opposite of what it claims. But also, and perhaps even more damning, no one in government today even abides by this specious document in the first place. The Constitution is undone by itself, by reason, and by circumstances. The third, circumstantial indictment of the Constitution is what I refer to as neo-Spoonerism, an organic outgrowth of the Spoonerist philosophy.

To test this hypothetical neo-Spoonerism, choose any part of the Constitution at random and see whether it is being faithfully observed. For example, from Article I, Section VIII: “The Congress shall have the Power to … raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” This is evidently breached.

Or, from the Bill of Rights, Sixth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” On this, for a start, let us call the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and every Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judge on the list to the witness stand. Just to get warmed up.

Or from the Bill of Rights, Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Civil asset forfeiture seems almost a parody designed to flout this Amendment, and the spirit of the Constitution as a whole.

This list could go on for quite some time. I did not even touch the Ninth or Tenth Amendments, by a faithful reading of which the majority of the federal Colossus would have to be torn down. The federal government is tracking and trammeling our speech, limiting our freedom of assembly, endangering us with reckless involvement in foreign wars, keeping political prisoners, staging coups against sitting presidents, forcing us to inject experimental serums, and shadowing journalists. Does it make “the People” any more than mocked fools to abide by the Constitution when the “people’s government” does no such thing?

Lysander Spooner argued that there is “no treason” against the Constitution because it has no authority over Americans. Another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, and a powerful rejoinder to the neofascism of the hour, should be neo-Spoonerism: there is no treason against the federal government, because the federal government does not abide by the document which it claims as its foundational authority to govern. Author:

Contact Jason Morgan

Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan, and was a 2016 Mises Institute Fellow. For a list of his books and publications, see his personal site.

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The Rutherford Institute :: The Police State’s Reign of Terror Continues … With Help from the Supreme Court | By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on October 6, 2021

As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_police_states_reign_of_terror_continues_.._with_help_from_the_supreme_court

By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead

“Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges.”—George Carlin

You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

In fact, in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs, our so-called rights have been reduced to mere technicalities, privileges that can be granted and taken away, all with the general blessing of the courts.

This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Constitution being inexorably bled to death by the very institution (the judicial branch of government) that is supposed to be protecting it (and us) from government abuse.

Court pundits, fixated on a handful of politically charged cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term dealing with abortion, gun rights and COVID-19 mandates, have failed to recognize that the Supreme Court—and the courts in general—sold us out long ago.

With each passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that Americans can no longer rely on the courts to “take the government off the backs of the people,” in the words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. When presented with an opportunity to loosen the government’s noose that keeps getting cinched tighter and tighter around the necks of the American people, what does our current Supreme Court usually do?

It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern.

More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt, seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government interests than with upholding the rights of the people enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

See the rest here

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president The Rutherford Institute. His books Battlefield America: The War on the American People and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State are available at www.amazon.com. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

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More on Domestic Terrorism: Who Will Be the Target? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on June 26, 2021

What to do about the numerous white ethnic societies that exist in the United States to celebrate their heritage? Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans and German-Americans watch out!

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/06/24/more-on-domestic-terrorism-who-will-be-the-target/

Philip Giraldi

We have been taught undesired and quite frankly hypocritical lessons by four presidents in a row and perhaps it is now time that we be left alone!

When the so-called war on domestic terrorism was declared quite early on in the Joe Biden Administration it provoked a wave of dissent from those who recognized that it would inevitably be used to stifle free speech and target constituencies that do not agree with the White House’s plans for sweeping changes in how the country is governed. Some rightly pointed out that every time the Federal government declares war on anyone or anything, to include drugs, poverty, or even Afghanistan, the results are generally counter-productive. But others noted that once fundamental liberties are taken away they will likely never return.

At first there were reports that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were increasing their investigations, many centered on the so-called U.S. Capitol “insurrection” of January 6th, which it now appears might have been in part incited by the FBI itself. The scope of the inquiries into how perfectly legal opposition groups operate and proliferate in the U.S. soon broadened to include opponents of much of the social engineering that the Democrats have brought with them to change the face of America. “Hate” or “extremist” groups and individuals became the targets with “hate” and “extremism” liberally defined as anyone whose identity or agenda did not coincide with that of the Democratic Party.

This effort to root out “domestic terrorism” needed a focus and that came with what was claimed to be an intelligence community joint assessment in March which labeled “white supremacists” and “anti-government extremists” as “the two most lethal elements of today’s domestic terrorism threat.”

See the rest here

Also by this author Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

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The Overlapping Infrastructure of Urban Surveillance, and How to Fix It – Activist Post

Posted by M. C. on June 26, 2021

How do we stop the United States government from tapping into the internet’s main arteries? Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows for the collection and use of digital communications of people abroad, but often scoops up communications of U.S. persons when they talk to friends or family in other countries. EFF continues to fight Section 702 in the court in hopes of securing communications that travel through these essential cables.

https://www.activistpost.com/2021/06/the-overlapping-infrastructure-of-urban-surveillance-and-how-to-fix-it.html

By Matthew Guariglia

Between the increasing capabilities of local and state police, the creep of federal law enforcement into domestic policing, the use of aerial surveillance such as spy planes and drones, and mounting cooperation between private technology companies and the government, it can be hard to understand and visualize what all this overlapping surveillance can mean for your daily life. We often think of these problems as siloed issues. Local police deploy automated license plate readers or acoustic gunshot detection. Federal authorities monitor you when you travel internationally.

But if you could take a cross-section of the average city block, you would see the ways that the built environment of surveillance—its physical presence in, over, and under our cities—makes this an entwined problem that must be combated through entwined solutions.

Thus, we decided to create a graphic to show how—from overhead to underground—these technologies and legal authorities overlap, how they disproportionately impact the lives of marginalized communities, and the tools we have at our disposal to halt or mitigate their harms.

A cityscape showing 13 types of common surveillance

Going from Top to Bottom:

1. Satellite Surveillance:

Satellite photography has been a reality since the 1950s, and at any given moment there are over 5,000 satellites in orbit over the Earth—some of which have advanced photographic capabilities. While many are intended for scientific purposes, some satellites are used for reconnaissance by intelligence agencies and militaries. There are certainly some satellites that may identify a building or a car from its roof, but it’s unlikely that we could ever reach the point where pictures taken from a satellite would be clear enough or could even be the correct angle to run through face recognition technology or through an automated license plate reader.

Satellites can also enable surveillance by allowing governments to intercept or listen in on data transmitted internationally.

2. Internet Traffic Surveillance

Government surveillance of internet traffic can happen in many ways. Through programs like PRISM and XKEYSCORE, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) can monitor emails as they move across the internet, browser and search history, and even keystrokes as they happen in real time. Much of this information can come directly from the internet and telecommunications companies that consumers use, through agreements between these companies and government agencies (like the one the NSA shares with AT&T) or through warrants or orders granted by a judge, including those that preside over the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Internet surveillance isn’t just the domain of the NSA and international intelligence organizations; local law enforcement are just as likely to approach big companies in an attempt to get information about how some people use the internet. In one 2020 case, police sent a search warrant to Google to see who had searched the address of an arson victim to try to identify a suspect. Using the IP addresses Google furnished of users who conducted that search, police identified a suspect and arrested him for the arson.

See the rest here

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The Only Privacy the Feds Protect is Their Own – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/06/andrew-p-napolitano/the-only-privacy-the-feds-protect-is-their-own/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Last week, The New York Times revealed that in late 2017 and early 2018, prosecutors in the Department of Justice persuaded a federal grand jury to subpoena the telephone, email and texting records of about 20 people, including two members of Congress and their families, staffs and investigators, and one of the minor children of a staff member. Also subpoenaed were the records of Donald F. McGahn II, then the White House chief counsel, and his wife.

In all, the government sought data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses. The subpoenas identified the targets only by telephone number and computer identification number.

The subpoenas were served on Apple, the custodian of these records. Also served upon Apple was a gag order signed by a federal judge instructing Apple not to tell anyone it had received the subpoenas. The government sought and obtained three annual extensions of the gag order. Such an order should have been challenged, as it is unconstitutional on its face.

The records sought and obtained were “metadata.” Metadata is not content; yet it is everything but. Thus, the records that Apple surrendered showed who spoke to whom and when, who emailed whom and when, and who texted whom and when, but it did not show what was actually communicated.

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

Here is the backstory.

Governments have been seeking records in criminal cases since the beginning of the American republic. Until 1986, if the government served a subpoena for your records on your telephone provider, financial institution, physician or lawyer, the custodian would normally tell you of the subpoena, thereby giving you an opportunity to challenge it. Some sophisticated custodians — like Apple, though not in this case — have filed the challenge in behalf of their clients.

In the litigation over such a challenge, the owner of the records would become aware of the government’s wish to seize them and would find out why it sought them. There is no threat to the records themselves, as they are in the hands of the custodian, not the target. This was a fair system that worked well for 200 years.

All this changed in 1986 with the congressional enactment of the highly misnamed Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This law permits the feds to obtain metadata — but not content — and to obtain a court order prohibiting the custodian from telling its client.

Stated differently, under the common law, and long-standing, 200-year-old federal practice, the target could challenge the subpoena. But since 1986, that has not been the case. This so-called Privacy Act, in reality, is a pathway to invade privacy. The only privacy this statute protects is the government’s.

Notwithstanding the 1986 law, federal grand juries can only issue subpoenas when they are investigating crimes. And subpoenas can only be issued when federal prosecutors persuade the grand jury both that a crime has been committed and that the subpoenaed materials more likely than not — this is “probable cause” — contain evidence of the crime being investigated.

We know these subpoenas were served at the height of the Robert Mueller investigation of then-President Donald Trump. And we know that much was leaked during that investigation that was politically harmful to the president. We also know that no charges were ever filed against Trump, and he survived the Mueller investigation legally unscathed.

What crime could the feds have been looking for, and what did they tell a federal judge in order to get the gag order, and why didn’t they just ask the judge for an order to seize the content of these communications?

There is no judge present during grand jury proceedings, nor are the target or his lawyers there. Prosecutors can say almost whatever they want to persuade the grand jury to issue a subpoena, but what they say is recorded. Might a review of what they said show that there was no evidence of a crime?

Leaks are not criminal unless the leaker has a legal duty to keep silent. Federal law only imposes that duty on grand jurors and on others if the materials that could be leaked are classified. Short of that, there was no crime for a grand jury to investigate, and no federal judge would have issued a search warrant.

Moreover, the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution insulates members of Congress from any governmental acts against them — including surveillance — due to their use of words in furtherance of their congressional work. This is bolstered by the separation of powers — baked into the Constitution — which makes the legislative branch and the executive branch equals.

The First and Fourth Amendments are intentional obstacles to the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First lets you say whatever you wish about the government, come what may.

The Fourth provides that all persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. If the government pierced this protection without a demonstrable showing to a grand jury of crime, plus probable cause on each person whose records it sought, then it engaged in the very fishing expeditions that the amendment was written to prevent, and the government itself committed the crime of computer hacking.

It is unlikely that this mass surveillance found evidence of a crime in 2018, as no one has been indicted. My guess? Trump was furious over the leaks and ordered federal prosecutors to shake the trees and see who falls out. This is the tip of an unconstitutional, privacy-invading iceberg.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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