Politics & Policy

Warrantless Searches of Americans? That’s Shocking!

Except when it happens every day.

When not cavalierly talking “impeachment,” here’s the Left’s talking point of the day:

What makes this president think he can invade the privacy of Americans without a warrant?

#ad#I don’t know. Could it be the powers, long recognized by federal law, to:

‐Detain American citizens for investigative purposes without a warrant;

‐Arrest American citizens, based on probable cause, without a warrant;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of the person of an American citizen who has been detained, with or without a warrant;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of the home of an American citizen in order to secure the premises while a warrant is being obtained;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of, and seize, items belonging to American citizens that are displayed in plain view and that are obviously criminal or dangerous in nature;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of anything belonging to an American citizen under exigent circumstances if considerations of public safety make obtaining a warrant impractical;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of an American citizen’s home and belongings if another person, who has apparent authority over the premises, consents;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of an American citizen’s car anytime there is probable cause to believe it contains contraband or any evidence of a crime;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of any closed container inside the car of an American citizen if there is probable cause to search the car–regardless of whether there is probable cause to search the container itself;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of any property apparently abandoned by an American citizen;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of any property of an American citizen that has lawfully been seized in order to create an inventory and protect police from potential hazards or civil claims;

‐Conduct a warrantless search–including a strip search–at the border of any American citizen entering or leaving the United States;

‐Conduct a warrantless search at the border of the baggage and other property of any American citizen entering or leaving the United States;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of any American citizen seeking to enter a public building;

‐Conduct a warrantless search of random Americans at police checkpoints established for public-safety purposes (such as to detect and discourage drunk driving);

‐Conduct warrantless monitoring of common areas frequented by American citizens;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of American citizens and their vessels on the high seas;

‐Conduct warrantless monitoring of any telephone call or conversation of an American citizen as long as one participant in the conversation has consented to the monitoring;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of junkyards maintained by American citizens;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of docks maintained by American citizens;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of bars or nightclubs owned by American citizens to police underage drinking;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of auto-repair shops operated by American citizens;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of the books of American gem dealers in order to discourage traffic in stolen goods;

‐Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens working in government, emergency services, the transportation industry, and nuclear plants;

‐Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens who are school officials;

‐Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens who are school students;

‐Conduct warrantless searches of American citizens who are on bail, probation or parole.

These could conceivably be some of the things that the president is thinking about, though certainly not all. I neglected, after all, to mention the long-established “inherent authority” of the president to “conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information,” recognized by federal appeals courts and assumed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in 2002.

Where does this president get such crazy ideas? Obviously, he should be impeached.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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