Supreme Court to rule on warrantless blood tests

police DUI test
In early January, the
Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that involved a disputed blood test stemming from a DUI in Missouri.  As the Washington Times reported, “Police stopped a speeding, swerving car and the driver, who had two previous drunken-driving convictions, refused to submit to a breath test to measure the alcohol level in his body.”  Law enforcement officers subsequently withdrew blood from the individual without first getting a warrant.

Although the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on gay marriage is taking center stage at the national level, this blood test case has profound legal ramifications for both civil liberties advocates and law enforcement officials alike.

Law enforcement officers argue that alcohol levels are evanescent, and waiting on a warrant can jeopardize properly attaining the blood alcohol level of an individual stopped on suspicion of a DUI. In this particular case, this is the crux of the government’s position; the prosecuting attorney from Missouri states, “Securing blood alcohol evidence with as little delay as possible is incredibly important.”

However, such a hard-line rule, which the Justices appeared to be at odds with, raises logistical issues with state laws, which differ across the country in conjunction with the time it takes for law enforcement to attain a warrant.  In addition, 25 states actually prohibit warrantless blood tests, and evidence shows that warrant restrictions have no effect on conviction rates in those states.

Warrantless searches, of any kind and particularly those that involve bodily intrusion, raise two major constitutional concerns that have civil liberties advocates up in arms:  First, are Americans really prepared to further water down the already trampled on Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful “searches and seizures” clause?  Bodily intrusion by a government official stands at odds with the test of “reasonableness” that a law enforcement officer must meet before conducting a warrantless search. As Judge Napolitano points out, “For years, courts took the position that you can’t enter someone’s body without a search warrant.”

The Constitution is a blueprint for what the government may do.  The Bill of Rights, on the other hand, spells out what the government may not do.  Although the word “privacy” is not explicitly used in the Bill of Rights, it’s implied as the Tenth Amendment Center points out: “There is a right to privacy. Why? Because the government isn’t specifically given the power to violate your privacy.”

A 1952 Supreme Court opinion summarized a warrantless bodily intrusion by a government official as “conduct that shocks the conscience.” This protection, which has long withstood scrutiny in the courts, is now at stake if the Roberts Court rules in favor of the government. 

Drunk driving is a serious problem in America, and thousands of individuals tragically lose their lives every year because of the criminal irresponsibility of others. But the Bill of Rights must be upheld if our posterity wishes to resist the tyranny of an overreaching federal (and state) government that borders on a modern day police state.  We aren’t there yet, but a Supreme Court finding that law enforcement officers have the legal authority to withdrawal bodily fluids without first going through the legal process of attaining a warrant may be the final nail in the coffin that pushes us beyond the point of return.

Comments

Polititainment

Stewart: How a bill becomes an ad

Jon Stewart observed Tuesday night that, although Congress doesn’t pass many laws these days, all those bills don’t go to waste—instead they are reborn into campaign ads slamming opponents for not voting on something.

Stewart wants to move 'home' to England

Jon Stewart is having second thoughts about the whole “American independence from Britain” thing.

Colbert: Obama is stealing Bush's lines

Colbert observed Monday night that some of Obama's recent comments on ISIS and Iraq seem a little familiar.

Liberal lobbying firm makes ‘Bibi-Yoncé’

If you’ve ever thought that the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reminded you a lot of a Beyoncé song, liberal Middle East lobbying group J Street has the internet campaign for you!

Bush's cool reaction to 'Scandal'

Judy Smith, former special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush and inspiration for "Scandal" main character Olivia Pope, spoke to an art and commerce conference Friday about Bush's reaction to the storyline of the ABC series.

White House

Holder resigns with 26 percent approval rating, making him third least popular Obama cabinet member

Attorney General Eric Holder’s dismal 26 percent approval rating as he steps down from his duties still leaves him as only the third least popular Obama administration official to resign.

Barack Obama doesn’t celebrate National Coffee Day. He celebrates tee time.

Look. We get it. The president gave his coffee salute, The Semper Latte, just days ago, recent enough to use for National Coffee Day jokes from dusk 'til decaf. But aren't we missing an opportunity here?

U.S. Grants $450M to Community Colleges To Link Job Training To Employers
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden announced almost a half-billion dollars of grants Monday to community colleges working with employers on job training. Linking training to industry demand is key to the Obama administration’s strategy for improving wages and reducing unemployment. Massasoit Community College in Massachusetts and Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley Technical College received the […]
WH: Secret Service’s ‘task is incredible’
THE HILL – The White House said Sunday it remained confident in the Secret Service despite news that the agency didn’t realize for five days that bullets had hit the White House in a 2011 shooting incident. “I know the Secret Service is on top of this and they will take every necessary step to correct […]
Even hardcore left states don’t believe Obama is doing a good job
President Obama is facing more bad approval ratings, but this time they are coming from states that used to be his biggest fans. Just 39 percent of registered voters in New York responded to a new Marist College poll that they believed Obama was doing an “excellent” or “good” job. This is the lowest level […]

Congress

John Boehner: Obamacare 'has to go'

In an interview with USA TODAY Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner affirmed that Obama's championed but disastrous Affordable Care Act "has to go."

McCain: Rand Paul 'trusts me' in military matters

McCain thinks he would wield a great deal of influence over a potential President Paul, “particularly on the military side of things.”

Rep introduces bill to ban porn on gov. computers
Most people wouldn’t think to browse porn at work, but then again, most people aren’t federal employees. Earlier this year it was discovered that one EPA official had been browsing pornography for two to six hours a day while at work and now Rep. Mark Meadows, (R-N.C.) has introduced a bill explicitly “prohibit[ing] the access […]
DWS repeated 'back of his hand' line
Apparently when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz finds a phrase she likes she is going to repeat it, no matter how offensive. For the second time within the past month, footage of the DNC chairwoman has surfaced in which she accused a Republican governor of giving women “the back of his hand.” Republican Super […]
Twitter squashes Schumer's tribute to Eric Holder

One could see how Schumer's simile may have been a stretch. Twitter certainly did.