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Mar 14 2013

Staver’s Idiotic Understanding of the 4th Amendment

At the end of February, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling declaring Florida’s drug testing requirement for those who receive financial assistance from the state to be unconstitutional. This was an absolutely open and shut case, so it’s not surprising that Mat Staver, the dumbest lawyer in America not named Larry Klayman or Orly Taitz, with the help of the Worldnutdaily, is spouting some serious nonsense over it.

The headline shows you the spin:

ACLU helps addicts go on state-funded highs

Oh, of course. That’s what they did. It has nothing to do with the 4th Amendment requirement that the government have probable cause before you perform a search. Indeed, Staver carefully avoids even looking at that issue with this argument that even a 12 year old would find laughable:

Three federal court judges unanimously held that the contested law violated Florida citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. But Staver told WND that the ACLU’s interpretation of “unreasonable” is far from what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

“Accountability is a biblical principle that formed the foundation of America,” argued Staver, who also serves as dean and professor of law at the Liberty University School of Law, specializing in constitutional law and foundations of law.

“The Founders believed in personal accountability,” he said. “The lack of accountability causes one to become lazy and entraps people … and that is what has happened with our welfare system.”

But that answer doesn’t even attempt to make a constitutional argument. By his “reasoning,” we could put cameras in everyone’s home to make sure they aren’t breaking the law. After all, “the founders believed in personal accountability” so we must hold everyone accountable for everything they do wrong. An unreasonable search or seizure is one for which the government has produced no evidence at all to show that it is necessary. Anything less would allow random house to house searches and cameras in our homes.

“Gov. Scott did the right thing,” asserted Staver, director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy. “His intent is obviously to address the drug problem among recipients of government programs.”

No it wasn’t. If that was his goal, he would have pushed for random drug tests for every state legislator, elected official and government employee. And for the executives of every company that receives taxpayer funds for any reason. But he didn’t. Because it’s really all about scapegoating poor people and making them look like shiftless and lazy bums. Never mind that study after study actually shows that people on welfare are about half as likely to use drugs than everyone else, or that the program costs far more than it saves.

And remember, this is an advocate of “smaller government” whose organization is called “Liberty Counsel.” And here he is advocating that the government be able to force you to give them bodily fluids for a search that is not only done without a warrant, but without any reason whatsoever to even suspect that any individual might be guilty of someone.

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  1. 1
    John Pieret

    Wait a minute. Three Federal Court of Appeals judges and the District Court judge made rulings and it’s the ACLU’s fault? Oh, he hates the ACLU more than he hates the rule of law.

  2. 2
    otrame

    Ed, you silly man, of course there is probable cause to think they are drug addicts and criminals. They’re poor.

  3. 3
    doublereed

    I actually think the idea here is that if you are receiving financial aid from the state then you should be treated as a “slave of the state” and don’t have constitutional rights.

    I’m not exaggerating. I genuinely think that is their reasoning.

  4. 4
    richardelguru

    Ah yes, biblical accountability: isn’t that where “the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the sons unto the seventh generation”?
    That sounds just like the constitution.

  5. 5
    jnorris

    “Gov. Scott did the right thing,” asserted Staver, director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy. “His intent is obviously to address the drug problem among recipients of government programs.”

    *
    I believe it has more to do with he and his wife owning a large drug testing company in Florida.

  6. 6
    marcus

    doublereed @ 3 or at the very least “indentured” to the state.
    “… he is advocating that the government be able to force you to give them bodily fluids for a search that is not only done without a warrant, but without any reason whatsoever to even suspect that any individual might be guilty of something.” Precisely.
    Succinct and well-said.

  7. 7
    The Lorax

    Of course they’re buying drugs. They’re poor. Duh.

  8. 8
    Michael Brew

    I actually think the idea here is that if you are receiving financial aid from the state then you should be treated as a “slave of the state” and don’t have constitutional rights.

    I’m not exaggerating. I genuinely think that is their reasoning.

    Oh, it definitely is with a lot of people. I was talking with some guys in my office a couple days ago about this, and they all said that if you get money from the government, the government should have the right to hold you to the same standard that they hold other government employees. Well, at least, those of us in the military. We’re supposed to get a random drug test at least once a year, though it doesn’t often happen that way. Of course, my argument that it only costs taxpayers money had no effect because that’s not what they cared about, and they certainly didn’t care for the argument that drug addiction should be treated as an illness or disability rather than a crime since, you know, that’s what it is, and that standards for employing those who use drugs should be the same as for those who use alcohol (which is just another drug, anyway): if it doesn’t interfere with one’s job, then it’s not the employer’s business.

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    If that was his goal, he would have pushed for random drug tests for every state legislator, elected official and government employee.”

    Balderpucky! Those above you are above suspicion. If they weren’t, they’d be below you. Like those pot junkies on the welfare.
     
    michaelbrew “We’re supposed to get a random drug test at least once a year…”
    It might just be my love of semantics, but I’m reading that as “Roll the die for this year. If it’s a 1, we’re testing for marijuana. A 2 is for coke. A 3 is for…”

  10. 10
    thisisaturingtest

    @#3, doublereed: I have seen serious suggestions by some on the far-right that the right to vote should be taken away from anyone on welfare. Apparently, the thinking is that the right to vote shouldn’t be denied on the basis of race or gender- but denying it on the basis of financial status is totally ok. These are people who really think that poor is a choice.

  11. 11
    tubi

    Balderpucky! Those above you are above suspicion.

    I think this actually hits the mark. People who have achieved positions like state legislator or CEO naturally did so because they are able to monitor their own accountability. They are accountable to themselves (and God, obviously), unlike the less successful in society.

    It’s very elitist and paternalistic thinking.

  12. 12
    eric

    @3 and @10 – no, this is about poor people, not about government assistance. If it were about government assistance, then they’d say any corporations who receive assistance must do x y z too.

    Maybe the justification you mention is in their heads. But whatever justification they have in their heads, it is always selectively applied to the poor and minorities. Which, to my mind, means that what they really care about is screwing the poor and minorities, and any claimed principle behind why they are doing it is just post hoc rationalization.

  13. 13
    John Hinkle

    Ed:

    …so it’s not surprising that Mat Staver, the dumbest lawyer in America not named Larry Klayman or Orly Taitz…

    WND article:

    “Blah blah blah,” argued Staver, who also serves as dean and professor of law at the Liberty University School of Law, specializing in constitutional law and foundations of law.

    Ed, you’re not impressed? C’mon, you gotta admit, that’s a real “load” of impressiveness.

  14. 14
    d.c.wilson

    “Gov. Scott did the right thing,” asserted Staver, director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy. “His intent is obviously to address the drug problem among recipients of government programs.”

    Step one would have been to determine if such a problem actually exists. Turns out, Florida’s own testing program discovered, not so much.

  15. 15
    baal

    Know what poor people don’t have? Money to buy drugs with. That can seem counter intuitive due to the constant media stereotypes and the mythos of the downward spiral of drug use but most drug use is recreational (at least at first) and having some spending money makes it easier to buy drugs. Having a car helps too.

    I’m very please this case came out like it did. I hardly expect even slam dunk easy cases to come out the right way anymore. I’m also saddened that the case had to happen. The policy was bigoted self enrichment (conflict of interest) for Mr. Scott from its inception.

  16. 16
    democommie

    Isn’t Scott the same fuckdoucheasswipe who was the CEO of some medical/healthcare firm that scammed the gummint and got caught? Oh, yeah, that’s right, HCA/Columbia for $600M n judgements. Why the fuck isn’t HE pissin’ in a cup?

  17. 17
    juice

    Talk about not knowing the 4th amendment. The 4th amendment does not say that you have to have probable cause to search. It says you have to have probable cause to obtain a warrant. But…it also does not say that a warrant is required for a search. It merely states that a search or seizure cannot be unreasonable. Now, the standard practice, the legal standard, is that a search requires a warrant (not in all cases) and that requires probable cause (not in all cases), but that’s not what the 4th amendment says.

  18. 18
    dingojack

    MO – Here, there used to be an automated announcement on railway stations that told us that: ‘… plainclothes police officers randomly patrol this station…’. But since there weren’t any boofy blokes in bad suits doing Drunk’s Walks on the station, I concluded (like most other commuters) that the announcements were bullshit. They were withdrawn.

    John Hinkle – Yep it’s certainly ‘a load’, a real big one.

    :) Dingo

  1. 19
    Staver’s Idiotic Understanding of the 4th Amendment » Dispatches from the Culture Wars » Free Bloggers Alliance

    [...] via Staver’s Idiotic Understanding of the 4th Amendment » Dispatches from the Culture Wars. [...]

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