Supreme Court

Supreme Court Sides With Police In 4th Amendment Case Arising from Officer's 'Mistake of Law'

|

Credit: C-SPAN

In a decision issued this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the police in a case arising from an officer's "mistake of law." At issue in Heien v. North Carolina was a 2009 traffic stop for a single busted brake light that led to the discovery of illegal drugs inside the vehicle. According to state law at the time, however, motor vehicles were required only to have "a stop lamp," meaning that the officer did not have a lawful reason for the initial traffic stop because it was not a crime to drive around with a single busted brake light. Did that stop therefore violate the 4th Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure? Writing today for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts held that it did not. "Because the officer's mistake about the brake-light law was reasonable," Roberts declared, "the stop in this case was lawful under the Fourth Amendment."

Roberts' opinion was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan. Writing alone in dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized her colleagues for giving the police far too much leeway. "One is left to wonder," she wrote, "why an innocent citizen should be made to shoulder the burden of being seized whenever the law may be susceptible to an interpretative question." In Sotomayor's view, "an officer's mistake of law, no matter how reasonable, cannot support the individualized suspicion necessary to justify a seizure under the Fourth Amendment."

The Supreme Court's opinion in Heien v. North Carolina is available here.

NEXT: Did Dick Cheney Really Approve CIA Torture?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Apparently words, and laws as written, no longer have any meaning at all. Fuck Roberts with a fucking porcupine.

    1. And the rest of those that went along with him.

      We need to fucking amend the Constitution to clean this type of crap up.

      1. Except it has been clear that the plain language and meaning of the Constitution have no effect on how they will rule. They will torture and ignore any new amendments just as badly as they do the current ones.

        1. Unless and until they get rid of all licensing and other restrictions on the purchase, possession, and carrying (open and concealed) of firearms, they cannot possibly claim to be applying the plain language of the Constitution.

          That’s my acid test. I will be shocked if I don’t go to my grave waiting for them to write a simple, one paragraph opinion:

          “The Second Amendment prohibits any infringement by the government on the keeping and bearing of arms by the people of the United States. Requiring a license to either possess or carry a firearm is clearly an infringement of these rights. If a person must obtain permission to do something, then they cannot be said to have a right to that thing. Therefor, all laws prohibiting the keeping or bearing of firearms, including those that require a license, are hereby overturned and declared void ab initio. “

          1. Insert any “right” for 2nd amendment.

          2. If a person must obtain permission to do something, then they cannot be said to have a right to that thing.

            So, donning a badge doesn’t deprive anyone of an uninfringible right and/or require any licensure or training in the exercise of said right?

            I lean towards recognizing ‘shall issue’ and reciprocity, but there’s libertarianism and then there’s anarchy, IMO.

            1. I lean towards recognizing ‘shall issue’ and reciprocity, but there’s libertarianism and then there’s anarchy, IMO.

              Licensing is prior restraint as applied to something other than speech. Few libertarians, let alone anarchists, would brook prior restraint on speech.

              Yeah, shall-issue and reciprocity are much more realistic short-term political objectives, but the ultimate goal is for rights to be congruently respected by the government, and there’s nothing anarchistic about that.

              1. True. What is anarchistic is the notion of throwing off the chains of our oppressors and replacing them with nothing. Libertarians need masters.

                1. Just like there is no new man that will make communism work, there is no new man that will make anarchy work.

                  Sorry, libertarians aren’t delusional. Government is part of human nature. It will always be here, we might as well try and make the necessary evil it is as unobtrusive as we possibly can make it.

                  1. Well this is pretty damn intrusive:

                    The Prohibitionists are involved in mass murder. The Reagan administration tried to suppress the finding that cannabis is effective against cancer. You can look it up. Of course the Democrats did nothing when they had a chance.

                    Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

            2. mad.casual, I don’t think you understand what a right is, or you have confused it with something else.

      2. I suspect that amending the Constitution would be futile, no matter how airtight the language might be. The black robed ones are mendacious servants of the State and will “interpret” the Constitution to maximize the State’s power no matter how it’s written.

        1. You are probably right. But some of the constitution could have been clearer and more specific. For example, if the 14th was intended to apply the bill of rights to the states, why doesn’t it just say that?

          1. Because lawyers write in job security.

        2. One of my pet notions is to replace Article III with “The judicial powers … are vested in such courts as the several States shall erect …”

          And each party to a case gets to appeal once to any other State.

          1. That sounds like a disaster.

      3. It doesn’t matter if you back Ceasar or Pompey, the Republic is gone and there is no getting it back. The consulship is too tempting of a brass ring.

    2. What did a porcupine ever do to you?

    3. You forget that the NSA has the goods on EVERYONE, including Roberts and all the rest of the Supremes. Whenever any of them get out of line, they are reminded of the skeletons in their closet which would diminish their ‘standing’ in the eyes of the country, if those skeletons were disclosed. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says or for that matter, how egregious the ruling. With the NSA listening to and reading everything everyone says and does, you can’t expect anyone to rule against the government/ cops/ etc.

  2. In Sotomayor’s view, “an officer’s mistake of law, no matter how reasonable, cannot support the individualized suspicion necessary to justify a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.”

    Sotomayor has been a pleasant surprise when it comes to civil rights.

    1. Yeah, I was wrong about her.

      So, ignorance of the law is a defense after all. If you’re an agent or ally of the Total State.

      Wave around a prohibited magazine? Eh, you’ve got the right friends, take walk.

      Make a mistake on traffic laws? If you’re a cop, no prob. If you’re a serf, though, nobody is inquiring into whether your mistake was “reasonable”.

      What a disgusting opinion.

      1. I wonder if

        Supreme Court Sides With Police

        has ever been followed by something that didn’t make me want to puke.

        1. I wonder if

          Supreme Court Sides Against Police

          has ever been written.

    1. That’s right after the “FYTW” Clause, right?

  3. Wow, I agree with Sotomayor, she truly is a wise Latina

    At least once.

    1. She’s been pretty consistently good on stuff like this.

    2. Stole my joke – good for her to uphold common sense.

  4. It’s unreasonable to expect the cops to know what’s illegal and what’s not.

    1. I didn’t know I couldn’t do that. Ok.

    2. Well, with all the laws on the books, how can they really be expected to keep up?

    3. Many years ago when I was a teenager, we had a local cop who was widely known as a mendacious prick.I was a hotrodder and my car was equipped with the requisite glass pack mufflers so that I could announce my presence with authority. On my way home late one night, officer fuckwit pulls me over in the neighborhood and proceeds to order me to rev my engine multiple times hoping to generate a noise complaint which could then be used to write me a ticket. A bit of time passes and no calls go out from the good citizens of the block complaining about noise, giving officer fuckwit a sad and forcing him to let me go on my way but not without first having to listen to this prick tell me that he had his eye on me and that he knew laws that I may have broken that I had never even heard about. Funny that he had nothing to write me up on so was forced to try to manufacture a complaint despite his self-proclaimed, deeply impressive knowledge of obscure laws.

      Thanks to the reliable shitheads populating SCOTUS, Phillip Dick’s fiction is getting closer to reality: …”but we do have a detention camp full of would-be criminals.” It’s not much of a leap from these types of decisions to, “The officer clearly felt that the defendant was capable of committing criminal acts at some point in the future and we must give all possible leeway to the feelings of trained law officers who possess powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.”

      8-1. Fuck you, SCOTUS.

  5. Worst decision ever.

    1. I don’t know – historically, that’s a VERY high bar…

      1. Yeah. It sucks, but it’s no Dred Scott or Wickard v. Filburn.

        1. Korematsu?

          1. Gesundheit!

          2. That one too. I’m not even sure this one is as bad as Kelo or Raich.

            But it does stink on ice, though.

        2. Ditto. Decision does suck mucky moose feet, though.

      2. Or feeding wheat that you grow on your land to your animals constituting interstate commerce.

        Maybe if your farm crosses a state border? I’m sure that’s REAL common…

        1. Wheat that you grow on your land is wheat that you’re not purchasing from across a state border. Thus it’s interstate commerce. Duh.

          1. Is your /SARC tag missing, or just implicit in your handle?

            1. *gives withering glare*

              If you have to ask….

            2. That’s not sarcasm, it’s based on actual Nazgul reasoning.

        2. Actually, it probably is reasonably common. Not a,good reason for that decision, though.

        3. Wickard was the beginning of the end.

          1. What’s funny is the time I was discussing Wickard with an extremely liberal lawyer friend of mine (shocker: she wasn’t familiar with it). She agreed that it was stupid.

            I didn’t really have the heart to tell her that her entire worldview was rendered possible by that decision.

      3. Claiming the police have the right to claim ignorance of the law (while we don’t) at a time when we are already moving towards a police state is pretty scary.

  6. The magic Latina is the only one of the nine who has ever worked at the district court level. The rest are just fucking worthless and stupid when it comes to these matters. This is another example of our elite institutions betraying the country. We have what amounts to an Ivy League ConLaw Priesthood running the appellate courts in this country. They are all completely out of tough upper class twits. Some of them are better than others on given issues. Nearly all of them are absolutely horrific on 4th Amendment issues because they are frankly pig ignorant about how the law actually works in practice. The lone exception is Sotomayor and she only got in because she is a Latin woman.

    1. Wasn’t RBG an ACLU lawyer? After Kelo I guess I shouldn’t expect her to have any intellectual consistency, but I expect her to have some intellectual consistency.

      1. Yes. She was a radical feminist civil rights lawyer. She is the other one who has seen the inside of a courtroom. RBG, however, never practiced criminal law. Sotomayor was a federal district judge and presided over criminal trials and thus understands how the system actually works.

        1. Ahhh. That does help it explain it somewhat.

    2. the only one of the nine who has ever worked at the district court level.

      This’ll make you happy:

      http://www.city-journal.org/2014/cjc1212mp.html

      CA Supreme Court nominee, has never donned the black robe.

      1. No one questions Kruger’s intelligence. She was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court. She worked briefly at two law firms in Washington and taught for a year at the University of Chicago. She spent the past eight years working in various positions at the U.S. Department of Justice. But she is plainly too inexperienced to serve on California’s Supreme Court.

        In fairness, she seems to be a very qualified political hack. And that is exactly what Brown was looking for

      2. never donned the black robe

        I might view that as a plus.

        I’m dead serious.

        1. If she had been a criminal defense attorney, it would be. The problem is she is nothing but an affirmative action baby and professional Democratic hack.

    3. Of course the basic problem is that there is entirely too much law.

      1. That is a problem but it is not the problem here. We are always going to have criminal laws and always going to need to restrict the government’s ability to search. Even if you reduced the number of unjust laws to zero, this decision would still suck.

  7. So now the 4th amendment to the Constitution has been overruled by a penaltax?

    Roberts is scum.

    1. It wasn’t just Roberts. He had eight votes in his favor.

      Their actions are what they are and all of them can fairly be described as “scum” in light of them. You should not pretend, however, that they wake up every morning thinking of ways to empower the police and ignore the 4th Amendment. It is actually much worse than that. If they were honest tyrants, they could be dealt with. The problem is that they really don’t intend the results they are producing. They wake up every day thinking they are upholding the system and the Constitution and doing justice. The problem is they are so cocooned from reality and and live in just a morass of unreality and rationalization, they have no idea that what they are doing is resulting in tyranny and would be horrified if they ever realized it.

      You can fix evil or at least mitigate it. Evil can be manipulated sometimes because it will do the right thing out of self interest. This is much worse. This is ignorance and denial. You can’t manipulate that.

      1. One of them needs to be on the receiving end of a stop and search by an ingorant officer.

        1. It’s never going to happen. As soon as Roberts get pulled over, he’ll pull out his ‘get out of jail every imaginable situation for free’ card and be on his merry way after the officer stops apologizing.

      2. I think they are intentionally evil in that they only look out for themselves and their ruling class friends and their gang of merry thugs in blue.

        They don’t give a fuck about us serfs, they’re above that.

        1. We will never know because we can’t look into their hearts. But I disagree. This is a different and much worse form of evil. If they were just crooks looking out for the ruling class, they wouldn’t be as dangerous. They are not cronies. They are the kind of right thinking well meaning people who have been responsible for the worst sorts of monstrous evil throughout history.

          “I was just following orders” or “I was just doing my job” or “I was just applying the law” are certainly morally inadequate defenses but they are very real reasons why people do horrible things. That is what is happening here.

          1. You could say the same about our current president, his administration, and congress. But for the most part, I wouldn’t agree with that either, they are almost all a bunch of power hungry sociopaths who feel no concern at all for those who are not a member of their oligarchy.

            1. You could say the same about our current president, his administration, and congress.

              Yes and you would be right. This is what evil looks like. It doesn’t look like what you think it does. It looks like a bunch of small pathetic people rationalizing their evil. Most people want to do good. If it were just a question of getting people who want to do good and are not crooks, there wouldn’t be very much institutional evil in the world. What makes institutional evil so vile and monstrous is that it harnesses people’s desire to do good towards an evil purpose.

          2. What does it matter what is in their hearts?

            Force for the “greater good” has been proven to be an evil mindset throughout human history.

            These fuckers are evil. That they think evil is good shows nothing more than how fucking backwards and demented these people are.

            1. It only matters in that because they think they are doing good, stopping them is much harder.

  8. How does checking a broken brake light give probable cause to search a car for drugs? Did the motorist give consent for a search?

    1. Consent for a search of your car is generally given under threat of having the car confiscated and impounded indefinitely, pending its virtual destruction by an invasive search.

      So, even “consent” needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

      1. Yes, while denial of permission to search does not constitute probable cause for a search, they will simply summon the K9 officer and the dog will alert whenever they want it to, thus providing probable cause, whether there is anything in the car or not.

      2. Unless there is a film of you denying consent, you will never win the motion to suppress, since nearly every judge will always take the cop’s word.

        You still have some 4th Amendment rights in your home. The reason for this is that they still need a warrant or some kind of articulable exigent circumstances. And unlike cars, cops generally don’t interact with people uninvited in their homes. You don’t get pulled over in your home like you do a car.

        Since they don’t need a warrant and can just lie about consent, you have no 4th amendment rights in your car. The whole thing is a fucking joke.

        1. Well, there does seem to be a current push at requiring cops to film everything.

          But just watch, all that will do is make more people aware of what is going on, and bring more lawsuit judgments, courtesy of the tax payer. It won’t stop the cops bad behavior since there is no threat of accountability or punishment for them.

          1. Search and seizure is where filming cops can do some real good. It prevents them from lying about consent. It also prevents them from issuing threats to obtain consent.

            Cops lying under oath in suppression hearings is epidemic in this country. That more than anything is why they don’t want to be taped. It would mean they would have to do their fucking jobs rather than just lying about it in court and none of them want that.

            1. But wouldn’t the fact that illegal whatever is found “prove” that the consent was denied? I mean, what person with something to hide would tell the cop to go ahead and search a vehicle knowing there were drugs or stolen tvs in the trunk? If I were on the jury (yet another reason we should all stop trying to dodge it) I’d believe the “alleged perp” and not the cop.

              1. It would to me. But judges seem to think that someone with something to hide apparently will consent because they just want to get caught and pay their debt to society or something.

                You make an excellent point. If someone who is guilty says they didn’t consent, it seems pretty irrational to take the cop’s word they did. Yet, that is what happens every day in this country.

          2. If the taxpayers don’t like it they can reign in the police force.

            The Prohibitionists are involved in mass murder. The Reagan administration tried to suppress the finding that cannabis is effective against cancer. You can look it up. Of course the Democrats did nothing when they had a chance.

            Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

        2. It’s still worth refusing to consent to a search. Especially if you have something for them to find. I just don’t get it when people consent to a search knowing that they will most likely find something. They might decide it’s not worth the hassle to get a dog or warrant. And if they tell you that it will be worse for you if they have to get a warrant, they are full of shit (legally, I guess they could still fuck with you).

    2. That’s the big problem. The exchange should have been:

      Cop – “do you know you have a brake light out?”
      Dude – “no, thanks for letting me know. I’ll get it fixed as soon as possible”
      Cop – “Have a nice evening”.

  9. Like this ruling won’t be ripe for abuse.

    1. That may be the point. Officers complain that their job is too hard if they have to be investigated for every single person they kill or law they break, Nazgul give them this gift to make their job easier.

  10. There are lots of laws. Lots and lots and lots of them. We cannot expect the noble community of Law Enforcement Professionals to know what they are. That’s a totally unreasonable burden.

    It’s better to just let them write, interpret and enforce the law on the fly. It streamlines the process immensely.

    1. It’s almost like “we have to enforce the law to find out what is in it”?

      1. Nope, not almost. It’s exactly like that.

    2. Enter Judge Dredd, stage left.

      I have seen this one before, friends, and I don’t like how it ends.

  11. I find myself agreeing with Sotomayor. Doesn’t happen very often.

    1. She has been consistently on the people’s side when it comes to people’s rights vis-a-vis the State’s police powers. Probably due to her experience dealing with police brutality issues with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund a couple decades ago…

  12. There are now clearly 2 sets of laws in the USSA. One for the little people, and another for the servants of the state and their masters. For the serfs, everything is illegal and there are zero civil rights. For the ruling class, there are no laws.

    IOW, the law is effectively null and void of meaning, except for when the goons send in their thugs to beat down another serf for not obeying the ruling class.

    This is getting really sickening.

    1. The Prohibitionists are involved in mass murder. The Reagan administration tried to suppress the finding that cannabis is effective against cancer. You can look it up. Of course the Democrats did nothing when they had a chance.

      Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

  13. What I find interesting in this decision is how it may apply to the issue of the ACA health exchanges and who can get subsidies.

    SCOTUS may determine that the implementation of ACA subsidies may be a “mistake of law”, and therefore, allow the federal created exchange to provide subsidies, when the law states that only states created exchanges can provide subsidies.

    1. So in essence laws are no longer worth writing or even debating, not when they are this nebulous.

      1. We suffer ‘fiat’ currency, why not fiat law? Now scoot up, the welfare line is moving.

    2. Yes, this was my first thought as well. The SC will rule that “the law doesn’t matter if doesn’t say what the enforcers want it to say,” and Democrats will gloat for 6 months about how they had the correct interpretation all along. Suck it, haters.

    3. But can ‘mistakes of law’ stand as justification even after someone corrects a government agents mistaken interpretation?

  14. *scratches off another item learned in civics class: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”*

    1. No, no.

      It is still no excuse for us serfs.

      The King’s Men, on the other hand…

  15. “Because the officer’s mistake about the brake-light law was reasonable,” Roberts declared, “the stop in this case was lawful under the Fourth Amendment.”

    I could pretend to be surprised by this, but fuck it.

    The Court long ago basically said the cops can stop you for any fucking reason, including none at all.

    1. Basically??? I thought it was pretty fucking verbatim.

  16. It’s important to realize that the case is fact specific. For example, if the person stopped were Dick Cheney, and rectal tubes and torture devices were found in the trunk, the decision would’ve been different.

    1. +1 Anal Shwarma!

    2. Cheney: That human head on the back seat isn’t mine.
      Officer: Well, be on your way, sir. Sorry to have bothered you.

  17. Although I’m once again happily surprised with Justice Sotomayor the majority decision is abysmal and paves the way for future abuses.

  18. Yeah, I was wrong about her.

    So was You Know Who, I suspect.

    1. Hitler? Nixon?

      1. David Hasselhoff?

    2. Are you refering to He Who’s Name Must Not Be Mentioned ?

      *shudders and looks over both shoulders

  19. I’m increasingly convinced that all problems that our country faces are the fault of the SCOTUS.

    Hopefully Rand Paul becomes president and the entire SC catches Ebola and dies.

    1. You misspelled SCROTUMS.

  20. 8-1? 8-1? WTF?

    Maybe the problem here is that the precedents are against common sense here – inc. a precedent from John friggin’ Marshall.

    Or like John says, it could be that the 8 are clueless dolts insulated from the real world.

    But even on the plane of pure principle, how can we give cops a break for not knowing the laws they’re supposed to enforce?

    Even a purely academic, theoretically-oriented judge should realize the problems with a system in which a citizen who says “oops, I didn’t know about that law” gets the book thrown at him while a cop who says “oops, I was wrong about the law” get extra enforcement powers by virtue of his mistake.

    1. But even on the plane of pure principle, how can we give cops a break for not knowing the laws they’re supposed to enforce?

      There’s no way cops can know all the laws when the legal registry is millions of pages long.

      1. If only Joe Sixpack could make such arguments in court.

        1. It was a longshot, but it worked.

      2. There’s no way cops can know all the laws when the legal registry is millions of pages long.

        There’s no way for citizens to know it either, which in effect makes it impossible to follow.

        Citizens can’t possibly know what they are to follow, and cops get to make it up as they go along.

        Golly. I wonder how that could go wrong.

      3. They don’t have to know ALL the laws. In the instant case, it’d be nice if the cop knew the traffic laws in NC.

        Although apparently even that’s too much to ask.

        1. ^ THIS. It’s one thing for a cop to not be aware of the nuances of insider trading laws, obscure building codes, or something they don’t encounter on a regular basis – but when it’s in their daily list of job duties, they should goddamn know better and be held to account when they don’t.

        2. Yeah, no cop is going to know all the laws. That’s just reality when there are so many laws. No lawyer or judge knows all of the laws either, I’m sure.
          But you’d think it wouldn’t be too much to ask for a cop who does traffic patrol to actually know what the traffic laws are.

        3. Don’t cops have to write the relevant code being violated on a ticket? What exactly did the cop in this case put on the ticket since there is no law saying having a brake light out is a violation?

          1. Knowing the number for the code or whatever it is doesn’t mean that they know the actual text. I’d bet that they just have a list of common violations with brief descriptions like “tail light out” or something like that.

          2. And I’ll bet you a fat greasy donut that cops in NC are still stopping people who have a brake light out.

    2. But even on the plane of pure principle, how can we give cops a break for not knowing the laws they’re supposed to enforce?

      I believe it’s implicit acknowledgement that the body of criminal law is so vast that it’s unknowable.

      Does that mean that the law needs to be trimmed back so that citizens can understand what it is they are to follow?

      No. It means cops get cut some slack when they misapply the law to citizens who are in fact following it.

      Disgusting.

    3. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, unless you are the one enforcing the law.

      It’s getting to the point that I bet if some cop accidentally mistakes some tomato plants for weed and guns down an entire family, children and puppy included, they will walk free.

      I don’t know exactly how these court systems are able to always select a jury of boot lickers who will aquit these pigs, but they always manage to do so. That’s if they even face a trial at all, which is rare. It’s sickening to think that we walk among such people.

      1. “Oh, you contributed to ‘Reason’? Dismissed. Oh, you read reason.com? Dismissed….”

        1. I think the part where they ask you if you would be more likely to take someone’s testimony as the truth if that someone is a cop, will take care of my dismissal long before they get to the Reason.com questions.

          1. they ask you if you would be more likely to take someone’s testimony as the truth if that someone is a cop

            I’m sure my guffaws would get me the boot real quick.

          2. Lie.

            If the state shows no impetus to tell the truth, neither should the citizenry.

            I’ll lie my ass off to get on a jury.

            1. I’ll lie my ass off to get on a jury.

              Be careful. If you get caught you will likely be charged with a felony.

              1. As long as you don’t say that you would always believe a cop’s testimony above a non-cop, I don’t see how they could get you on that.

      2. It’s getting to the point that I bet if some cop accidentally mistakes some tomato plants for weed and guns down an entire family, children and puppy included, they will walk free.

        Oh, we’re already past that point. Wrong address raids have lead to people getting killed, and I don’t recall any jail time for any cops.

        1. Didn’t some guy in Georgia get raided because of his okra ? (no one killed in that one, though)

      3. THEY walk among US. After all, they are representing the Overlord Class.

    4. Maybe this case will be a precedent to claim ignorance of the law as an excuse. “Your honor, my ignorance of the law was reasonable so I should get a pass here just like in Heien v. North Carolina.”

      1. ^^ My first thought.

        And then we’d both be laughed directly out of the courtroom and into prison.

  21. I’m relieved that the Court has finally ruled on the constitutionality of the mulligan.

  22. If the cops can say “Oh, but I thought…” when a citizen is not in violation of the law, and it stands up in court, then I fail to see how there is any law at all.

    1. That’s because – effectively – there isn’t any law.

      Welcome to the continued death of the United States of America. Great experiment that started falling apart as soon as it was implemented, and is now rushing headlong over the precipice.

      1. That’s because – effectively – there isn’t any law.

        This

        The law is only a mechanism for the ruling class to keep a boot on the neck of the peasants. It has no meaning anymore outside of that.

  23. “Your Honor, when everything is illegal, nothing is illegal. I request the Court dismiss all charges.”

    1. “HAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAAAAAHHHAAA…..

      *breath*

      HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA
      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      Ohh, my….that was a good one, counselor….”

      *wipes eyes with handkerchief*

    2. Well, that imaginary line you crossed is real and those plants you had are illegal.

  24. The rest of America: “Huh?”

    1. The rest of America: “Huh? SHUT UP ‘GIRLS’ IS ON!!11!!”

      fixed

      1. Girls is an expos? on the sick minds of progressives. My wife watched it for a while and was immediately more interested in my libertarian views.

        Turning the wife into a libertarian is such a slow process, though.

        1. Tell me about it. Then again, I never was trying exceptionally hard and it sort of came to her of her own investigations and volition.

          It’s kind of to the point where she knows a lot about it, but not quite enough to avoid sticking her foot in it on occasion. Some cringeworthy moments, I must say. And she has the enthusiasm of a recent convert, which can end up badly from time to time.

          1. Mine is getting there on economics, but on social issues she simply thinks people are too stupid to make the correct decisions without nanny government.

            On soda taxes hurting the poor, her thought process is something like: Good, you’re a fat ass, you shouldn’t be drinking soda anyway.

            Sigh, so passive aggressive. Most women tend to be that way, which is probably why we have so few female libertarians. Government is the ultimate solution for the passive aggressive.

            1. Most women people tend to be that way, which is probably why we have so few female libertarians.

              1. Actually, I sort of take that back. While women can be passive aggressively statist, men tend to be much more aggressive about their statism.

                1. I didn’t mean it to sound sexist. I read a study once upon a time that showed women actually were more passive aggressive than men, while yes, men were more aggressive. Wish I could find it, I’d link it.

                  The evolutionary reasoning that they came up with was something to do with women not wanting to come to bodily harm both due to the fact that they are not as strong as we are, and that they have the one egg and we have millions of sperm. In other words, men can afford to be aggressive because it only takes one man to impregnate dozens of women.

                  Regardless, anecdotal evidence shows me this is true. That is why you don’t mess with women, cuz they will fuck you up and you won’t even know where it came from or when it is coming. 🙂

  25. Well, still, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing….t….

    I can’t even any more….

  26. Way back in 1991 there was the case of Florida v. Bostick.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_v._Bostick

    The issue was whether two cops boarding a bus and asking to search Bostick’s bags was unreasonable. From Wikipedia:

    O’Connor suggested that the Florida court’s error in Bostick was that it “focus[ed] on whether Bostick was ‘free to leave’ rather than on the principle those words were intended to capture.”

    That’s the kind of unmoored from reality thinking you get from the elites. The words “free to leave” mean…well wahterver we want them to.

    1. Its the “living Constitution”. You have to a real retard to claim to be a “Libertarian” and embrace anything but an originalist or as close to that as possible reading of the Constitution. Once you let judges decide that the document’s meaning can change with the times, your rights are whatever judges decide they are.

      1. In Bostick it struck me how they could think that two uniformed and armed deputies boarding a bus, at night, and asking may we search your bags, was not inherently coercive. They think an ordinary citizen would be comfortable saying no, and that the deputies would just accept that. They really do live in an alternate reality.

      2. One thing I’ve noticed with the new wave of “libertarians” (read conservatives who don’t quite get it yet, but are getting there) is that they still believe our rights come from the Constitution, rather than being inherent.

        Which is why many of these people will still stand up for cops just “doing their jobs”.

        1. they still believe our rights come from the Constitution

          I don’t get that. Never have. The plain language of the BoA does not establish any rights. It recognizes them. Plain as day.

          1. No, the BofA is a set of absolute restrictions on what the government can do. They only relate to you tangentially. You don’t have a “right to free speech”. If you did, no one could ever tell you to shut the fuck up. What you have is a restriction on the government from telling you to shut up or throwing you in jail or fining you to get you to shut up.

            1. No, the BofA is a set of absolute restrictions on what the government can do.

              The BoA does not grant rights, it recognizes them and restricts government from violating them.

              You don’t have a “right to free speech”. If you did, no one could ever tell you to shut the fuck up.

              Um, someone telling me to shut up doesn’t mean I must obey. I have a right to free speech in that others do not have the right to initiate violence on me to make me shut up.

              What you have is a restriction on the government from telling you to shut up or throwing you in jail or fining you to get you to shut up.

              Um, yeah. Isn’t that what I said. The BoA recognizes the right to free speech by restricting the government from violating it.

              1. Um, someone telling me to shut up doesn’t mean I must obey. I have a right to free speech in that others do not have the right to initiate violence on me to make me shut up.

                No. But they could ignore you. They can punish you in other legal ways. Your employer can fire you because he doesn’t like what you say. If you had a positive right to “free speech” they couldn’t do those things. The government couldn’t tell your employer to fire you or fire you from a government job because of your speech. They couldn’t deprive you of government benefits for it. But your parents could cut you off and cut you out of the will couldn’t they?

                And to the extent that they couldn’t use violence against you, that is because they can’t do that anyway. If I beat you up, I am guilty of battery regardless of why I did it. If I did it because I like doing it, I am no more or less guilty than if I had done it because of your speech.

                1. I don’t see how that invalidates anything. Sure people might not like what I have to say and they may take action to not hear me say it again. That doesn’t invalidate my right to say it.

                  1. It is a semantic argument. The problem with saying you have a “right to this or that” rather than saying “you have a right not to have the government stop you” is that the former, by making rights positive things, becomes a slippery slope towards society having to pay for you to do things and makes freedom and rights some kind of competition between interest groups. Which is more important, your right to free speech or your employer’s right to fire you for saying shit he didn’t like? If free speech is some kind of positive right rather than a negative restriction on government, that is where the debate goes.

                    1. The problem with saying you have a “right to this or that” rather than saying “you have a right not to have the government stop you” is that the former, by making rights positive things…

                      That’s why I say “The right to act without interference (providing I’m not doing any interfering myself).”

                      My right to free speech is simply the right to speak without anyone interfering with me, so long as I’m not interfering with them.
                      Same with the right to keep and bear arms.
                      These rights require no action from anyone else.
                      Contrast that with the right to free this and free that, which require someone else to pay for it.
                      The distinction is pretty clear.

                    2. My right to free speech is simply the right to speak without anyone interfering with me,

                      Isn’t your employer saying “shut up or I will fire you” interfering with your free speech? I think it is. You don’t have a right to speak without interference. You only have a right to speak without government interference. Big difference.

                2. My right to free speech does not include the power to force people to listen and like what I have to say.

                  1. My right to free speech does not include the power to force people to listen and like what I have to say.

                    Why shouldn’t it? If I can’t say something without suffering dire consequences, do I really have free speech? No, you don’t. And of course few of us really have “free speech” in that sense. Reality punishes us for saying things other people don’t like. I am not free to tell my boss he is an asshole or my wife that she looks fat in that dress without enduring real consequences. I am only free to say whatever I want in the sense that I don’t have to or shouldn’t have to worry about what the government will do to me for it. So in that sense, “free speech”, is nothing but a restriction on government.

                    1. Why shouldn’t it?

                      Because then it ceases to be a right and becomes a power.

                      If I can’t say something without suffering dire consequences, do I really have free speech?

                      Yes. You have the right to say stupid things and suffer the consequences.

                    2. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

                      People have multiple rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, property rights, etc.

                      You cannot exercise your right by impeding on someone else’s long list of rights.

                      In the case of the employer, that is his property, he can’t force you to shut up, but he can force you to get off his property. In this case, he never violated your rights. You made a choice, and you suffer the consequences of that choice. You do not have a right to be an employee with that employer.

                      I wrote that thinking you were not one of these conservatives that don’t quite get it. I recommend you re-read the Declaration of Independence to start, then the 9th Amendment. Keep going from there.

        2. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of Libertarians seem to think that “rights” are positive things. Paul you don’t have a “right” to do shit. If you did, then it would be on the rest of us to provide it to you.

          What you have is a set of restrictions on what the government can prevent you from doing. You don’t have a “right to travel”. If you don’t have the money or the ability, you can’t travel. What you have or should have is the knowledge that if you do have the ability and desire to travel, the government absent due process and a just reason, like convicting you of a crime, can’t stop you.

          So your rights such as they are completely about tying down and restricting the government and what it can do to you. It is a semantic difference but an important one. If your “rights” are positive things, then society has to make sure you can enjoy them regardless of whether you can afford it. You have a “right to a fair trial” and a right “to a defense”, we don’t deprive you of that because you can’t afford to pay for it. That is because those are not positive things but negative restrictions on what the government can do. If the government wants to send you to jail, it has to pay to provide you a defense and a fair trial. Everything else is just your preference but they are not rights since no one is obligated to provide them to you and whether you get them or not is up to you not us.

          1. Don’t forget about your right to health care, your right to an education, your right to a healthy diet, right to not be uncomfortable by ideas you disagree with…

            But seriously, you are correct. Once a right is defined as an entitlement, all hope is lost.

            Also your credit card holder bill of rights, airline passenger bill of rights, patient bill of rights….

          2. I think most libertarians recognize the difference between positive and negative liberty.

            1. As far as I am concerned “positive and negative liberty” is a non sequitur. There is no “negative Liberty”. There is only the natural state of liberty, i.e. do whatever you want. Everything else is just some kind of restriction on that ideal in the form of either practical restrictions of circumstance, i.e. I want to move to Prague but can’t because I don’t have a job there or the money to live without a job, or some kind of restriction on government’s ability to stop me from doing what I want, i.e. the government can’t stop me from moving to Prague unless they have a just reason and provide me due process before stopping me.

              1. I want to move to Prague but can’t because I don’t have a job there or the money to live without a job

                Lacking the means to exercise a right doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

                1. Lacking the means to exercise a right doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

                  Effectively it does. I won’t be doing it either way. My “right” to do it really only relates to the restriction on the government stopping me if I can and want to do it. It has nothing to do with my actually doing it. This is why the “right” is a completely negative thing and only makes sense in relation to my relationship to the government.

                  1. Effectively it does.

                    If you’re a rich person and your taxes go down as a result of my not receiving a welfare check, that’s effectively the same as money being taken from me and given to you. Not taking is giving and not giving is taking. Right? I mean, it’s effectively the same, isn’t it?

                    Saying you effectively don’t have a right to do something because you haven’t set aside the means to do it is the same kind of reasoning as far as I’m concerned.

                    1. John is an intelligent man, he will get it if he sits down and thinks it through.

                      No one is arguing for positive rights, John.

                      Reread the DOI, the 9th Amendment, read some Locke.

                      We are born with our rights, it is a very important distinction to make. It is not semantics. If government grants you the privilege of your rights, you really have only the rights the government says you do.

                      The question I usually ask Conservatives is this:

                      If there were a constitutional convention tomorrow that stripped the Bill of Rights, would those rights still be there?

                      You keep talking about “effectively”. Effectively those rights are still there, and you would defend those rights against any force that tried to violate them. Why? Because you are a human being. Very, very important. Government has nothing to do with it.

                    2. Why would they bother with a constitutional convention when they can just ignore the Constitution?

          3. You can still think of rights as negative even if they are stated positively. Any natural right has to be conditional on your having the ability and means to do the thing. Your right to travel means that you can go where you will if you can figure out a way to make it happen.

    2. (The Chicago Tribune published my letter critizising the decision, a high point in my life as a crank)

  27. SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH POLICE

    How… unsurprising.

    Where’s Reverend Al? He should be holding a “FUCK THE POLICE” sign on the steps of the Supreme Court. Nothing will change as long as the Court continues to immunize the baboon army of occupation.

  28. They’ll go through whatever legal gymnastics they have to to reach their preferred conclusion.

    Reminds me when the SC was considering drug testing High School athletes, and their reasoning for allowing it was, I swear I’m not making this up, that the athletes already showered together and thus had a lowered expectation of privacy.

    No shit, that was the actual legal “reasoning” they applied.

    1. I seem to recall that too. It’s like they aren’t really arguing from principle.

    2. “Expectation of Privacy” is one of the worst legal doctrines of the last 100 years. It might be the worst, even worse than the cumulative effects test for Commerce Clause power of Wickard.

      1. Yes. There seems to be a circularity. Your expectation goes down the more they take it away. MY expectation of privacy is that absent some suspicion I’ve committed a crime, the contents of my car, of my luggage, the reason for my travel, the money I carry is private. But apparently my expectation isn’t what counts.

        1. Society determines what is a “reasonable expectation”.

        2. It is all a fiction. The 4th Amendment says ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,”. There is nothing in text that limits your privacy by place. You take your privacy with you.

          The problem was that cops were too lazy and it was just too hard to expect them to get warrants to search cars like they did houses. So they invented a legal fiction that has essentially deprived all of us of our 4th Amendment protections outside of our homes.

          1. 30 years ago I recall my dad, a circuit court judge, complaining how the supreme court had made a hash of the rules for searching a car.

            1. Your dad was right. The line of cases are just one exception after another until there wasn’t any privacy left.

    3. It’s like RC said above. No licensing scheme can be consistent with the Second Amendment. I think it was Charles C W Cooke who said the “problem” with the 2nd is that the plain meaning is so expansive. Hence all the hair splitting about militias and reasonable regulations. The real argument never gets made becasue that would require an honest reading of the words.

    4. Nothing says lowered expectation of privacy better than repeated rectal probes and enemas.

  29. Shit like this is why the drug war is so fucking immoral (If there was no drug war then it should have just been “Get your taillight fixed”). I wish drug warriors would see this, but alas, they won’t until one of the king’s men ass rapes them for a broken tail light and “smells alcohol” on their breath.

    1. This case also shows how unjust nanny state safety laws are. Get rid of the various bullshit laws like yearly car registration and non moving violations like having a tail light out and the cops have fewer reasons to harass people. These laws do nothing but make war on the poor and give cops ready made excuses to harass them.

      1. These laws do nothing but make war on the poor and give cops ready made excuses to harass them.

        You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around…

    2. As soon as the law tries to protect people from (and punish people for) their own choices, rather than protecting them from other people trying to do them harm, the government becomes an enemy of the people.

  30. Chief Justice John Roberts held that it did not. “Because the officer’s mistake about the brake-light law was reasonable

    I see that the plain language of law is not how law is to be enforced. I also see a meaningless term. Keep it up, Chief Justice “Penaltax”.

    1. reasonable has got to be the worse fucking word in law. It’s how the ADA has become so cumbersome that business owners have to spend thousands on installing pool lifts, remodeling bathrooms, adding ramps, elevators, etc, etc.

  31. The question I have is – where does it go from here?

  32. Well, there goes the rest of the 4th Amendment.

    Oops. I thought it was illegal to have pink siding on your house. My mistake. But it was a reasonable mistake…

    …and…what have we here? Is that a milk crate I see in your closet? And Jesus Christ almighty…Officer Friendly requesting backup…this sonofabitch has removed his mattress tags. Hey is that a dog? BANG BANG BANG BANG! He came right at me…hey lady get away from that animal…I said quit crying and move away from the animal…respect my authoritah…BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG…*reloads*…BANG BANG BANG ….I had no choice, she went for her waistband…oh, it was a tissue…looked like a gun. Oh well, I’ll go home safe tonight and procedures were followed.

    This government is fucking OUT OF CONTROL!

    1. Fransisco, you appear to have the makings of a first class appellate judge. Your hypothetical is exactly where this case is going to go.

  33. This is utterly and completely ridiculous. A reflection that our current Supreme Court has zero experience outside of the ivory towers of academia and government and have never actually interacted with law enforcement officers other than in their stints as prosecutors and judges.

    If officers are allowed to use any “mistake of law” to justify a search or seizure, WTF is the point to having any law whatsoever?

    1. It has to be a “reasonable mistake”. So, the officers do not get to do whatever they want, just what judges think is okay.

      Now, doesn’t that make you feel better? Come on now, judges are the best and brightest. Don’t you trust your betters?

  34. Cameron . I see what you mean… Christina `s blog is astonishing, on sunday I bought a brand new Lexus LS400 since I been bringin in $5235 recently and even more than $10k lass month . without a doubt it is the easiest work I have ever had . I began this 10-months ago and almost immediately started bringin in minimum $75 p/h .
    read the full info here =-=-=-=-=-=-= http://www.jobsfish.com

  35. Who says we don’t live a Police State? This ruling is irrational and hypocritical.

  36. What’s the difference? If it’s not this, then it was because the license plate was crooked, or your side mirrors were dirty, yada yada yada. They will find a reason to pull you over if they want to, errors and omissions not withstanding.

  37. “Because the officer’s mistake about the brake-light law was reasonable,”

    It be nice if ordinary citizens could be let off because our mistake about a law was reasonable

  38. THIS IS A PREVIEW OF WHAT’S COMING FOR THE OBAMACARE SUBSIDY CASE

    It doesn’t matter what the law says. It only matters what the government or the cops want it to mean at that time.

    1. sadly, you’re probably correct.

  39. my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $83 /hour on the computer . She has been fired from work for 6 months but last month her income was $20084 just working on the computer for a few hours. check this site out……..

    http://www.Jobs-spot.com

  40. if nothing else, we can strap the eight justices down and have them watch a ‘law and order’ marathon….maybe then they’d have some clue.

  41. and by the way…how is it reasonable when it’s their job to know the law? it would be like the cable company billing you for a appointment despite the fact that the technician didn’t know how to hook your cable up.

  42. Now police can make all kinds of “reasonable mistakes” just to kick in your door.

  43. I make up to USD90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around USD40h to USD86h Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link

    Try it, you won t regret it! …… http://WWW.WORK4HOUR.COM

  44. Whatever happened to the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine?

    These justices are flopping around like a fish out of water.
    The eight who ruled against the appellant should get a thousand dumb-slaps apiece.

    1. Repealed by the court in the Reagan era.

  45. So if I understand right, private citizens have a duty to obey the law without knowing it (because only someone with criminal intent bothers to learn what the law says), and LEOs’ job is to enforce the law without knowing it nor obeying it.

  46. Interesting discussion here.

    I will add this: When anyone wishes to have an exemption from the rules/laws of civil society or accountability, no matter the special circumstances they claim, it is because they fully intend on violating those rules/laws.

    Anyone who grants those exemptions is fully aware of that and is granting them for the specific purpose of facilitating crime.

    Fuck this court.

  47. How about we just eliminate the Supreme Court from the Constitution? All in favor say “aye.”

  48. That ruling is bullshit and flies in the face of several state constitutions, which have ruled the opposite way. This ruling opens the door to all kinds of police malfeasance.

  49. It was an HONEST mistake. If it had been a dishonest mistake….

  50. Pass this around. Because it may just Prevent another Prohibition:

    The Prohibitionists are involved in mass murder. The Reagan administration tried to suppress the finding that cannabis is effective against cancer. You can look it up. Of course the Democrats did nothing when they had a chance.

    Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

  51. Yes, Judge Sotomayor. It is not the responsibility of the police to judge. They exist to protect and serve. I’m reminded of Judge Dredd. More frequently today the sentence is administered on the spot.

  52. I looked at the paycheck which had said $7434 , I didn’t believe that my mom in-law realy bringing in money in their spare time at their computer. . there brothers friend has been doing this for only 16 months and just paid for the morgage on there place and bought a top of the range Aston Martin DB5 .
    You can join just easy ——- http://www.jobsfish.com

  53. It is absurd to claim that a “law enforcement officer,” who has law books in his state issued vehicle and on his state issued computer, can make a “reasonable” error regarding the law.

    “I forgot murder was a crime.”

  54. Since I started with my online business I earn $42 every 15 minutes. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out.

    == w?w?w.?w?a?l?l?e?t?w?i?k?i?.C?o?m?

  55. Valerie `s posting is shocking… on saturday I bought a great new Jaguar XJ after I been earnin $6211 this last four weeks an would you believe 10k this past month . it’s by-far my favourite-work I’ve ever done . I started this eight months/ago and immediately startad bringin home over $71… per hour .
    am impresses but join this site and earn money easily.
    _________________ http://www.jobs700.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.