We’re The Government, And We’re Here To Watch You!

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Via David Codrea, this report on invasion of privacy.

Seated at his kitchen table, finishing off the remains of a Saturday breakfast, Hunter Hollingsworth’s world was rocked by footsteps on his front porch and pounding at the door, punctuated by an aggressive order: “Open up or we’ll kick the door down.”

Surrounded on all sides of his house, and the driveway blocked, Hollingsworth was the target of approximately 10 federal and state wildlife officials packing pistols, shotguns and rifles. And what was Hollingsworth’s crime? Drugs, armed robbery, assault, money laundering? Not quite.

Months prior, in 2018, the Tennessee landowner removed a game camera secretly strapped to a tree on his private land by wildlife officials in order to monitor his activity without apparent sanction or probable cause. Repeat: Hollingsworth’s residence was searched by U.S. government and state officials, dressed to the nines in assault gear, seeking to regain possession of a trail camera—the precise camera they had surreptitiously placed on his private acreage after sneaking onto his property at night, loading the camera with active SD and SIM cards, and zip-tying the device roughly 10’ high up a tree—all without a warrant.

Can the government place cameras and monitoring equipment on a private citizen’s land at will, or conduct surveillance and stakeouts on private land, without probable cause or a search warrant? Indeed, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. Welcome to Open Fields.

The vast majority of Americans assume law enforcement needs a warrant to carry out surveillance, but for roughly a century, SCOTUS has ruled that private land—is not private. Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures” expressed in the Bill of Rights only apply to an individual’s immediate dwelling area, according to SCOTUS.

However, SCOTUS’ Open Fields doctrine has been bucked in Mississippi, Montana, New York, Oregon and Vermont through protections granted by state constitutions, and for many American landowners, the more they discover about Open Fields—the more questions they have regarding the bounds of government power.

[ … ]

In 1924, Hester v. United States set up the Open Fields framework and said the U.S. Constitution does not extend to most land: “the special protection accorded by the Fourth Amendment to the people in their ‘persons, houses, papers, and effects,’ is not extended to the open fields.” Significantly, Open Fields is translated beyond its literal sense, and basically is defined as general acreage: woods, fields, farmland, barren ground, and more.

Further, in 1984, SCOTUS gave additional strength to Open Fields in Oliver v. United States: “open fields do not provide the setting for those intimate activities that the Amendment is intended to shelter from government interference or surveillance. There is no societal interest in protecting the privacy of those activities, such as the cultivation of crops, that occur in open fields.”

Do as we order you or we’ll break your property down!  This is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and likely other local LEOs, and certainly federal officers (because the article says so).

The Supreme Court let you down.  They did it a long time ago, and they reiterated their treachery later.  That doesn’t surprise anyone.  But the state is taking advantage of that, and while that should not surprise anyone, it’s something to fight.

Land of the free.  You must have the king’s permission to hunt the royal forests, and do everything his way.

We certainly need a reset in America, a complete do-over.


Comments

  1. On August 19, 2020 at 7:43 am, Fred said:

    “Open Fields” should only apply to what an officer can see and observe from off of the property such as a road. It’s pretty easy to see that this is what is meant; if a cop sees you on your property breaking the law that’s probable cause. Putting cameras on peoples property is an absurd rendering of the “open Fields” understanding.

  2. On August 19, 2020 at 1:12 pm, J J said:

    “We certainly need a reset in America, a complete do-over.”

    Truth. Alarmingly evident….and growing more so every day.

  3. On August 19, 2020 at 2:47 pm, Frank Clarke said:

    Thomas Jefferson opined in the early 19th century that he thought the United States was getting too big to be governed from one spot. Between the lines, he was saying that ‘secession’ was getting to be a good idea.

    I’m not sure we need a complete do-over as much as we need an escape clause. No-fault secession is an idea whose time has come… about 200 years ago.

  4. On August 19, 2020 at 7:45 pm, Sisu said:

    Interesting that Codrea mentions protections in NYS; NYS DEC clearly has the authority to patrol and enforce laws on private property. Until I saw a related article a few days ago, I did not understand why; then I understood “open fields” applied, now I need pursue a full understanding of what Codrea refers to.

  5. On August 20, 2020 at 7:41 am, Roger J said:

    Rather than taking the game camera, which he had a right to do, as it had been abandoned by the state on his property, Hollingsworth should have simply blasted it with a 12 gauge at close range. So the last thing it would have recorded was a huge shotgun muzzle coming up and facing it. The state could then recover what was left of the camera at their convenience. “Sorry, I missed that clay pigeon.”

  6. On August 20, 2020 at 10:51 am, JFP said:

    Wasn’t there a few cases in the past 10-15 years on the FBI putting GPS trackers on cars without warrants and the courts telling the feebs to pound sand as it were? How is a car intimate or immediate property but property is not?

    More idiocy from the soopremo court.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Politics and was published August 18th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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