Morning Links

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
  • Immigrants caught up in federal raids not only face deportation, but losing their kids, too. Shame on us.
  • Eulogizing the boom box.
  • The Wall Street Journal picks up the story of Pennsylvania DA George Skumanick Jr.’s ridiculously aggressive prosecution of teens caught up in the “sexting” craze–and, even worse, his pursuit of some who weren’t. Hell, it’s only April and we already have several worthy candidates for the 2009 WOPOTY Award.
  • Tweets of the rich and famous.
  • Lefty Brown student transfers to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University for a semester in order to write a book about the experience. The results are interesting, and a little surprising.
  • In a rare Fourth Amendment win, the Supreme Court puts some limits on warrantless car searches. The line up of justices in the 5-4 opinion is pretty interesting, too. Credit to Scalia, who gets a lot of (deserved) heat on this site.
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  • 27 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but child porn hysteria parted ways with rationality a long time before sexting was ever invented.

    2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I admit it. I’m retarded in the skill of seeing all the exceptions that the Supremes see so clearly in the Bill of Rights. For example, I don’t see the exception giving the FCC the right to ban certain words from the airwaves. I don’t see the exception that makes it ok to search everyone flying on a commercial airliner. I don’t see the exception that says obscenity isn’t protected speech. I don’t see terrorism exception anywhere in the Bill of Rights.

      And I don’t see the exception that says the cops can search your car without a warrant “supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. A warrant is committed to paper before the search is executed. It’s not some vague notion of probable cause that is purely in the mind of the cop until after the search is completed and the evidence seized, at which time a plausible story is concocted and committed to paper to justify what’s already happened.

      If could actually see them, I could make a pretty god case why those exceptions shouldn’t even be in the Bill of Rights. But, I can’t fight what I can’t see.

    3. #3 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

      If they weren’t breaking the law, they wouldn’t face losing their kids now would they?

    4. #4 |  CDH | 

      That one student had a good point; if DA Skumanick is showing the alleged pornography to other people not involved in the investigation, isn’t he, by his own definition, distributing child pornography?

      Hopefully one of these kids has parents who can afford a lawyer to sue the DA. Even if they really don’t have a chance of winning in court, it would be very nice to see him squirm under the negative publicity.

    5. #5 |  Nobody | 

      I’ve not finished Kevin Roose’s book on his time in Liberty University, but it’s interesting reading thus far. It’s not a bashing of the conservative evangelical life, it’s more like…sharing the culture shock. It’s a good read.

    6. #6 |  SJE | 

      Damn: Scalia is talking about the line of 4th amendment cases and its “charade of office safety.” Seems contrary to giving great deference to the police and their “new professionalism”…could there be a change of heart coming?

      It is almost certain that his clerks read the blogs, and can help Scalia out of his ivory tower.

    7. #7 |  Mattocracy | 

      Does Liberty University offer a degree in the college of oxymorons?

    8. #8 |  OGRE | 

      On Scalia, contrary to public belief hes actually been one of the better protectors of the 4th amendment. Hes the author of the Kyllo decision, which had nearly the same voting lineup as Gant (with the noticeable difference of Stevens who authored the majority in Gant but authored the dissent in Kyllo).

      Even back in the 90s Scalia was typically the strongest defender of the 4th, followed by Thomas; I remember one Scalia opinion (though the name escapes me) similar to the one in Gant, which said that a search of a vehicle can only be predicated on finding evidence of the crime committed; i.e. stopping somebody for say speeding means the officer could only search the vehicle for further evidence of speeding, and not for say drugs (absent some other exception such as consent).

      While I’m not a fan of the result in Hudson, I can understand the reasoning behind it, because the exclusionary rule as it is has always been pretty weak and subject to attacks such as the one put forth in Hudson. If exclusion wouldn’t deter future misconduct, then the evidence is admitted; applying that understanding of the exclusionary rule to the case in Hudson nets the result the court gave. (And remember that in Hudson there was a valid warrant, so the question was did the subsequent police conduct invalidate the already valid warrant?) In any event, I consider Hudson more of a police misconduct case than a 4th amendment one although the subject matter is blurred.

      I guess my point is that contrary to the media’s (limited) understanding of how SC justices decide cases, Scalia will typically fall on the side against the government in 4th amendment cases. And Thomas even more so.

      Granted that Scalia deserves all the flak he gets regarding ‘police professionalism.’

    9. #9 |  Mike T | 

      I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but child porn hysteria parted ways with rationality a long time before sexting was ever invented.

      It also created a perverse incentive structure for offenders by bringing the penalty for possession of child porn within close proximity to actual child molestation. I don’t think I need to lecture anyone on the danger that this creates for children.

    10. #10 |  Brian | 

      OGRE: It was Scalia’s concurrence in Thornton that you are thinking of. He wrote a separate concurring opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg (of all people). The majority opinion (except for O’Connor) specifically rejected Scalia’s concurrence in the judgement. O’Connor wrote separately to say that she didn’t think that Scalia was as crazy as everyone else seemed to, but that she still wasn’t going to join his opinion.

    11. #11 |  chance | 

      “If I wanted my education to be well-rounded, I had to branch out and include these people that I just really had no exposure to.”

      Assuming he is sincere, that’s a shockingly mature attitude. I’m not that mature.

    12. #12 |  The Democratic Republican | 

      Radley, I love ya, but your views on immigration are way off base. I’m not a huge fan of any kind of raid, but I’m really tired of the family separation argument being used to justify the breaking of a law (immigration). Where I live, people are using the family separation argument to say that illegal immigrants who have been arrested for ACTUAL, other crimes, should not be deported.

      I don’t agree with immigration law as it is, but at the same time I’m tired of people trying to make my heart bleed.

    13. #13 |  Marty | 

      #3 | ParatrooperJJ |
      ‘If they weren’t breaking the law, they wouldn’t face losing their kids now would they?’

      good sense of proportion… try to make a better life for yourself and your kids and lose everything- because of shitty immigration laws.

      I suspect this will start hitting closer to home as our movements become more restricted. I can foresee even more people being detained for not having ‘proper papers’ while traveling. We will be spending more time proving our innocence. People have lost their children for lots of bullshit reasons, but it’ll become more common as the bullshit reasons (laws) become more oppressive.

      I hope your papers are in order.

    14. #14 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

      Actually it has little to do with immigration laws. Criminal single mothers who are citizens who have no one to take their kids till they are released can lose their parental rights also.

    15. #15 |  After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children | Renegade Futurist | 

      […] (via The Agitator) […]

    16. #16 |  Marty | 


      Many of the laws being enforced and turning people into ‘criminals’ shouldn’t be laws. We’re not protecting people, we’re creating more victims. there’s little sense of proportion.

      you can give me all the negative karma you want, but I stand by what I say. as laws become more oppressive, there’s a greater chance this will encroach on you or someone you know.

      just curious- are you a parent?

    17. #17 |  Muffy | 

      I don’t see how laws against drinking in public and identity theft are creating victims. These were people who were convicted of crimes over and above ‘not having papers’. Specifically, the main woman profiled in the article above was detained because she lied about her name when questioned. Everyone else with young children was released. Then after not contacting her child in any way, shape or form for over a year, she wants her child back.

      Marty, if life is so hard in their own country I understand the desire to make a better life for yourself; but that should take the form of political protest in their home nation, not complaints about laws here.

      Democratic Republican, I’m with you. This batch of stories from the NYTimes are designed to pull at your heartstrings. At the same time, I can’t get worked up over someone who was in a car accident in Texas, had millions of dollars spent to take care of them, and a special interest group doesn’t want him deported because “he might not receive the same standard of care in his home country” (one of the last stories featured in this series).

    18. #18 |  Salvo | 

      Scalia has been…..hmmm…I’m not going to use the word inconsistent, but….let’s say, marginal, at best when it comes to 4th Amendment issues. For instance, he seems fine with the destruction of the exclusionary rule for police error (as seen in Hudson), but will be okay on issues where the police specifically failed to get a warrant when they could have.

      However, what makes me really despise his 4th Amendment jurisprudence is a) he will almost always tend to give the benefit of the doubt to police officers, and more importantly, b) tends to believe that people under the age of 18 have no rights.

      It’s this last part that troubles me more, because frankly, Scalia has been the driving Justice behind the destruction of school house rights. His opinions in this matter are abysmal, and border on the sociopathic and are almost gleeful at the thought of the abuse that gets heaped upon the youth. This is of course, leaving aside his inconsistencies when it comes to states vs. federal rights.

      I admit I don’t like the man, I think he’s a terrible justice, and is one of the prime architects (with Rehnquist and Thomas) behind the gradual erosion of our civil liberties over the past 20 years. I also think he has done it deliberately, and was planning it when he took the bench.

      I do applaud his reasoning in the Gant decision, just as I applauded when he outlawed the use of thermal imaging to find drug houses. Stopped clock and all that.

      @#2 Dave Krueger: The problem that has allowed so many exceptions to be carved into 4th Amendment jurisprudence is the word “unreasonable”; the common holding is that if a search is “reasonable”, no warrant be issued. This allows a lot of leeway for those who want to corrupt the original meaning, by allowing the gov’t to argue that a search was reasonable, and therefore, no warrant. For the 1st Amendment, it’s a bit harder, but they basically get around it by saying that obscenity isn’t actually speech, or rather, it was never meant to be protected speech. Yes, that’s bullshit, I know. I don’t see it either.

    19. #19 |  z | 

      Speaking of sexting hysteria. The money quote: “It also disturbs me that, in our legal system, the truth can apparently get in the way of “justice.” I can no longer look at the power of prosecutors and our justice system the way I once did. “.

      A libertarian made one outrage at a time.

    20. #20 |  OGRE | 

      I would strongly disagree with your characterization of Thomas as a “prime architect” in the erosion of civil liberties. He is by far the most anti-state justice on the bench, especially when contrasted with the ‘liberal’ justices such as Souter and Ginsberg who almost always take the governments side in everything.

      To be honest, your choice of words such as ‘sociopathic’ when describing Scalia makes me think you are getting talking points from Keith Olberman. I have never read an opinion by the man that even comes close to warranting the language you have ascribed.

      I’m not a strong defender of Scalia–although I am of Thomas who is undoubtedly the most libertarian Justice on the Court. But the characterization of Scalia as some pro-state, semi-fascist pervert is ridiculous and absurd, and strikes me as little more than party-line demagoguery. My guess is that the abortion issue is foremost in thought when making such opinions.

    21. #21 |  KBCraig | 

      The Gant decision is good for what it covers, but what it covers is too limited: a post-arrest search as a “contemporaneous incident to that arrest”.

      I don’t know how the Court will eventually rule, but for now police officers are already saying, “Fine, we won’t search ‘incident to arrest’, and we won’t search to further investigate. We’ll just wait until the tow truck arrives to impound the vehicle, and conduct an ‘inventory’ of the vehicle’s contents. Strictly to protect the arrestee against theft, mind you.”

      The “inventory search” is already abused where traffic arrests are made as a pretext to allow a vehicle search. A cop friend of mine predicts more impounded cars as a result of this ruling; sadly, I can’t disagree with his conclusion. At least not until “inventory searches” are smacked down, which I hope will happen soon.

      Somone mentioned Kyllo v. United States; I hope the Court will use the same logic to rule that K9 “walk-arounds” are searches too, especially when the dog is directed where to sniff by the handler.

    22. #22 |  Marty | 

      #17 | Muffy

      What we’re seeing with illegal immigrants in MO is unscrupulous individuals are pressuring them into breaking the law. A local landscaper was having illegals return merchandise to hardware stores that was broken/worn after he swapped it for new equipment that he kept.

      I agree, there are some real shitheads. However, I think a lot of the scam type crimes are people in a bad spot being pushed into a worse one.

      I didn’t develop empathy until I developed friendships in the hispanic community. A lot of hardship could be avoided by implementing reasonable immigration laws.

    23. #23 |  anarch | 

      From the article about sexting:

      [District Attorney George Skumanick’s] curriculum included material on “what it means to be a girl in today’s society” and a poem, “Phenomenal Women,” by Maya Angelou.[/blockquote]

      I swear, at first I read that as “Pheromenal,” and I wondered what it was supposed to teach.

    24. #24 |  anarch | 

      Why doesn’t he teach a course on closing tags, dammit?

    25. #25 |  Marcus C | 

      I personally know 2 Liberty graduates and I know of a couple more through relatives, marriages, friends of friends. Certainly a small sample. Hardly what I would call a “conservative” bunch- at least when it comes to sex. The one guy ( semi-famous because of his relative success in a certain profession so I won’t mention it) cheated on his wife and abandoned his family. He apparently had multiple other families all over the place and claimed it was because of his religion and what God intended. I imagine he was probably sexing his way through school as well.

    26. #26 |  nathan | 

      “If I wanted my education to be well-rounded, I had to branch out and include these people that I just really had no exposure to.”

      Assuming he is sincere, that’s a shockingly mature attitude. I’m not that mature.

      Which is why I respect him so much. It’s sad that it’s surprising that someone from the “tolerance for all!” side of the fence actually went and tried to understand the other side enough to be respectful to them. I’m wishing more Liberals would actually go try to learn more about Conservatives, and more Conservatives would actually go try to learn more about Liberals.

      But then people might actually realize the other side has reasons for what they do, and actually discuss the issues instead of scream about how bad/evil the other team is, and we might get somewhere. But that would lead to less interesting, more thoughtful TV/radio/blogs, and we can’t have that.

    27. #27 |  Muffy | 


      I’m empathetic to illegal immigrants’ situation. But the article wasn’t talking about hispanics conned into committing crimes, but simply hispanics who committed crimes who have now been deported without their children. Of course I have empathy, but public intoxication isn’t something you can be conned into committing.

      I simply feel if you have enough drive to uproot your life to another country to try and make a better life for yourself, you certainly have enough drive to change the economic circumstances of your home country. Also, when you are in a foreign country you have to respect the laws of that country – when I went to Mexico, I was offered weed, but didn’t accept, because that would be breaking laws in Mexico and I was a guest. Many of the immigrants I have met do not have the same courtesy for laws of the United States.