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

Jay Carney's son performs at White House

The former White House press secretary and now CNN political commentator tweeted out a photo of his son's band Twenty20 performing at a White House event Monday evening.

Stewart: Graham has panicked for 13 yrs
Comedian Jon Stewart is taking some time away from going after his favorite Republican war hawk Sen. John McCain and is now going after McCain’s fellow rally crier, Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham had some strong words over the weekend on the topic of ISIS, saying,  ”This president needs to rise to the occasion before we […]
Actress: I made 'constitutional' stand

Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts said Monday morning that she made a stand for her "constitutional rights" in resisting the LAPD late last week.

Gillibrand Madam Secretary inspiration

After first revealing that CBS' upcoming "Madam Secretary" series was inspired by Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, the show's producers are now saying that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was more of the inspiration for the lead role.

 

Maher compares GOP rep. to ISIS, Ebola

Liberal comedian Bill Maher announced who he calls the "winning loser" in Congress during a live taping of "Real Time with Bill Maher" in Washington, D.C., Friday, and that loser is Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.).

White House

Gaffetastic vice-president apologizes for slur

Vice-President Joe Biden apologized Wednesday for his use of an ethnic slur in a speech this week.

Two remarkable stories show why these Vietnam vets earned an exemption to receive the Medal of Honor

Two Vietnam War veterans who were granted an exemption to receive the Medal of Honor were officially recognized Monday, recalling the extraordinary courage of servicemen often obscured by the tumultuous domestic politics of the era.

Obama orders airstrikes in Syria for first time

WASHINGTON (AP) — Opening a new military front in the Middle East, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time Wednesday night, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of a broad mission to root out the violent Islamic State militants whose reign of terror has spread across both countries.

Golf courses are now rejecting President Obama

A president can no longer just golf like a major champion today.

Crushing: The golf industry fights the Obama administration

How's this for a hook: The golf industry is fighting the Obama administration.

Congress

'Finally, we're gonna audit the Fed'

The House passed a bill Wednesday afternoon to audit the Federal Reserve, a long-time crusade of former Rep. Ron Paul and libertarians.

No welfare for weed under House bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a bill Tuesday night that could make it a little harder for people to use government welfare payments to buy marijuana in states where the drug is legal. Supporters call it the “no welfare for weed” bill. The bill would prevent people from using government-issued welfare debit cards to make purchases […]
Congress tweets the Constitution

For an alternative reading experience this Constitution Day, direct your attention to Darrell Issa's Twitter feed.

Democrat tries to blame GOP for Ebola outbreak
Sen. Richard Durbin (D- Ill.) is trying to blame House Republicans for the deadly spread of the Ebola virus. About 5,000 people have become ill from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal since the outbreak was first recognized in March.  At least 2,400 people have died from the disease. The World Health […]
Bipartisan bill to demilitarize police introduced
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho GOP congressman Raul Labrador is teaming with a Democratic lawmaker from Georgia to move a bill designed to curb police militarization among state and local law enforcement agencies. Labrador and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson introduced the bill Tuesday, saying the Pentagon’s “1033″ program — which provides local law enforcement officers […]