Are laptop seizures constitutional?
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    Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    An editorial in the NY Times asks Congress to make Homeland Security stop seizing the laptops and phones of US citizens returning from overseas travel.

    Are these seizures a violation of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures?

    Link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/10/op...=1&oref=slogin


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by alaskaguy View Post

    Are these seizures a violation of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures?
    Absolutely.

    I'm astonished that such searches are taking place routinely.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    These along with many things that have been enacted since 9/11 are unconstitutional. My favorite part of all of this is how certain Supreme Court justices cough-Scalia-cough have shown that rather than strictly adhering to a constructionist view of the constitution, like they claim to do, they based their opinons along party lines. Thankfully they didn't win the Gitmo case. That being said, I'm not in favor of strict constructionism, I just like to point out how Scalia is a smug, hypocritical Republican stooge, as he is only a constructionist when it suits Republican policy. But I digress. There HAS a been a huge increase in unconstitutional government behavior recently, and hopefully its on its way out. As Ben Franklin said "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a small amount of temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Blame George Bush.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Smoking bans are, why not laptop seizures?

    I stubbed my toe tonight, damn George Bush.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by acrozier22 View Post
    Blame George Bush.
    Ok. I will.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    I'll play devil's advocate. What if someone came into the country and was in possession of a notebook (old paper kind) which had the names and home addresses of members of congress, the military, or other critical people, along with plans to bomb or kidnap them?

    If there was a legitmate plot to attack the United States written on paper, they would be completely within the law to seize the notebook. So why would a laptop be any different?

    It is very difficult to make that arguement under the 4th Amendment because in the times in which we live today, there would be a significant portion of the population which would deem it reasonable. (as long as it was someone else's laptop) Even trying to define unreasonable could be a daunting task. The article didn't mention whether there is any sort of litmus test or if it is indeed random.

    With that being said, with the advent of computers and information today, there's no reason that some sort of litmus test could be established before confiscation happened. For instance, they could check an FBI file to see if the person in possession had a criminal record or was closely linked to others who did, or if they owed back taxes or were otherwise not a citizen in good standing.

    I assume much of the problem lies with the people doing the confiscating, many of which are probably not smart enough to even turn the devices on in the first place. I have not been impressed by most of the Homeland Security people I have dealt with.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    That was a very poorly-written editorial, with no facts, to support the allegation that electronic devices are being searched and seized.

    Their analogy between "breaking into someone's house" and looking at someone's electronic data is a bit of a stretch.

    Muslims being targeted??? Good. I want the guy(s) who are doing that promoted and given a raise.

    Unconstitutional? The 9th Circuit Court, the most insanely liberal judicial entity in the Universe, says it is not.....


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    That was a very poorly-written editorial, with no facts, to support the allegation that electronic devices are being searched and seized.

    Their analogy between "breaking into someone's house" and looking at someone's electronic data is a bit of a stretch.

    Muslims being targeted??? Good. I want the guy(s) who are doing that promoted and given a raise.

    Unconstitutional? The 9th Circuit Court, the most insanely liberal judicial entity in the Universe, says it is not.....
    I'm surprised that you would support this... Are you saying that you support this policy?



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by superdorf View Post
    I'm surprised that you would support this... Are you saying that you support this policy?
    [snicker]I'm surprised you beat your wife. When did you stop beating your wife? [/snicker]

    The media does this crap all the time.

    First, did/do these "laptop searches" actually happen? My B.S. o'meter is going off, because the article leans heavily on hearsay and innuendo.

    Second, what is the context of the alleged "searches"? Some searches are actually "good things" depending on the context of how/why they were searched.

    Third, because the 9th Circuit seems to be okay with it, I'm seriously twigging onto the possibility that this "editor" is making mountains out of very, very, very, very, very small molehills.

    Or do you not think the US gov't has the responsibility to its citizens for at least a modicum of security at our borders and terminals?


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    [snicker]I'm surprised you beat your wife. When did you stop beating your wife? [/snicker]

    The media does this crap all the time.

    First, did/do these "laptop searches" actually happen? My B.S. o'meter is going off, because the article leans heavily on hearsay and innuendo.

    Second, what is the context of the alleged "searches"? Some searches are actually "good things" depending on the context of how/why they were searched.

    Third, because the 9th Circuit seems to be okay with it, I'm seriously twigging onto the possibility that this "editor" is making mountains out of very, very, very, very, very small molehills.

    Or do you not think the US gov't has the responsibility to its citizens for at least a modicum of security at our borders and terminals?
    I still don't see an answer from you on this issue.

    I'm all for security, but I do think it is funny that this administration will walk all over the constitution for one issue, then blindly defend it for others. The constitution is not to be used only when it suits your purpose.



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by superdorf View Post
    I still don't see an answer from you on this issue.

    I'm all for security, but I do think it is funny that this administration will walk all over the constitution for one issue, then blindly defend it for others. The constitution is not to be used only when it suits your purpose.
    And what issue would that be?

    The article is so vague and full of unsupported insinuations I was left wondering what, precisely, they are protesting.

    The article insinuates that laptops are being seized and unreasonably searched. I am not certain that is actually happening.

    It is entirely possible the editorial is in error in its theme.


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    And what issue would that be?

    The article is so vague and full of unsupported insinuations I was left wondering what, precisely, they are protesting.

    The article insinuates that laptops are being seized and unreasonably searched. I am not certain that is actually happening.

    It is entirely possible the editorial is in error in its theme.

    Do YOU support seizures of laptops... if they are occurring?



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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Quote Originally Posted by superdorf View Post
    Do YOU support seizures of laptops... if they are occurring?
    Again, when you answer the question "When did you stop beating your wife?" I will answer yours.

    I support seizing laptops from people who are a threat to the US, upon entry to the country. I think the government has the responsibility to regulate any and all travel into the US, no matter where the person came from. (Actually, I know they do. I said "think" to make my argument seem more temperate.)

    Noone has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the act of entering the US from outside the country. And the constitution supports this, completely and utterly.


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    Re: Are laptop seizures constitutional?

    Thank you. I just couldn't get where you were coming from...

    So I guess the real question becomes; How do you determine who is a threat?

    And I haven't stopped, because I never started.



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