The State of Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that probable cause is all that is required to search an automobile during a traffic stop
By Jack Mullen
Penn. (INTELLIHUB) — The decision effectively ends the process of requiring a warrant to search a vehicle unless there is probable cause and exigent circumstances.
Further the Pennsylvania High Court’s decision overrides Pennsylvania’s own Declaration of Rights in State Constitution Article I, Section 8. Article 8 stating :
“The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things shall issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation subscribed by the affiant.”[A]
In Contrast to the Constitution for the United States, the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights adds further protections stating people shall be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures in their persons, houses, papers and possessions. Further the Pennsylvania Constitution states no warrant shall be issued to search any place or seize any person or things without describing them as nearly as may be and without probable cause.
Contrasting with the Constitution for the United States, Article 4 of the Bill Rights states :
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.[F]”
The Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 8 of the Declaration of Rights, is considered to provide even greater protections of privacy than the Constitution for the United States; “Commonwealth v. Waltson, 724 A.2d 2 89, 292 (Pa. 1998) (citing [J-5-2013] – 6 Commonwealth v. Edmunds, 586 A.2d 897-98 (Pa. 1991)” 
The high Court acknowledged in its recent ruling :
“As a general rule, for a search to be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment or Article I, Section 8, police must obtain a warrant,supported by probable cause and issued by an independent judicial officer, prior to conducting the search. This general rule is subject to only a few delineated exceptions, including the existence of exigent circumstances. See Horton v. California, 496 U.S.128, 134 n.4 (1990) (“[I]t is a cardinal principle that searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment — subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.”) (citations and quotation marks omitted);[A]”
However the court later cited Federal Government rulings stating that “exigent” circumstances are automatically in place because an automobile or vehicle is mobile and therefore the evidence is easily and naturally moved when the vehicle is moved. Recent United States Supreme Court rulings now permit searching on probable cause alone, without exigent circumstances, even if the car were immobile or impounded.
“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.” – Justice Learned hand
Thus the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, following the federal lead, carefully crafted a legal word-salad argument building a bridge around the Pennsylvania Constitution and its Declaration of Rights in favor of the vastly pro-government and anti Individual rights positions of the Federal Government and its Supreme Court.
In fact the Court stated :
“At the outset, it is important to recognize that this Court may extend greater protections under the Pennsylvania Constitution than those afforded under the U.S.Constitution. However, we should do so only where our own independent state constitutional analysis indicates that a distinct standard should be applied.” [A]
In concluding the Pennsylvania Supreme court noted :
“no compelling reason to interpret Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as providing greater protection with regard to warrantless searches of motor vehicles than does the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, we hold that,in this Commonwealth, the law governing warrantless searches of motor vehicles is coextensive with federal law under the Fourth Amendment.”[A]
While saddling up with the Federal Government, the State of Pennsylvania has short circuited the “spirit and intent” of the Pennsylvania State Constitution and Declaration of Rights, while ensuring the ruling cannot be challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States.
It is evident and abundantly clear, the Federal Government’s egregious attack on the organic fourth Amendment of the Constitution for the United States is consistent with an agenda of curtailing individual liberties, while massively increasing Federal Government powers and control over “We the People.”
This technique of vacating State Constitutional protections to become aligned with the United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution is a means by which State Supreme courts can diminish rights strongly protected under State Constitutions while seemingly appealing to a higher authority on rights and Liberty.
However, as the history of the United States Federal Government has demonstrated, there is and has been a clear agenda to undermine the limits and restraints on the size and scope of the federal government at the cost of liberties and rights of Citizens of America since the Constitution was narrowly ratified in 1790.
In Fact, since 1819 when Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion in McCulloch v Maryland which “turned the Constitution on its head”[B], limited government scholars and advocates have realized the United States Constitution could not hold the power and growth of the Federal Government in chains. Government’s growth is proportional to the powers collected from its Citizens and given the power to write law, and more specifically to interpret laws, define authority of government branches, agencies and set the line between the State and Federal Government’s power, the Supreme Court has essentially unlimited power and influence over the American union of States.
According to Bernard H. Siegan in “The Supreme Court’s Constituition”:
“The United States Supreme Court is an unusual institution for a nation that proclaims its dedication to democratic processes. An unelected body whose nine members have been appointed for diverse reasons, it has the power to set aside laws that the vast majority of people support. Under our system, the Court is considered the guardian of the Constitution; yet that document does not not specifically empower it to exercise judicial review over either federal or state legislation.”[B]
In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court is clearly interested in supporting the Federal Government’s egregious and growing intrusions into the lives and privacy of American Citizens. Recent revelations regarding the extent to which Americans are being spied upon using color of Law and ultra high-tech technology, while ignoring, completely, the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution, is clearly an ominous sign of a serious balance of power shift away from privacy and the rights of individuals to be secure from government intrusion to a “borg” State having unlimited powers over the Citizen.
George Orwell once imagined :
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever” 1984
The Pennsylvania decision was 60 plus pages of building arguments to circumvent the Pennsylvania State Constitution: the Supreme Law of the land in Pennsylvania. Upon reading the decision, it is easy to see the court could have as easily and vehemently argued to support the Pennsylvania Constitution and the 225 year history of the Law and will of the people of Pennsylvania. In fact, Justice Debra McCloskey-Todd in a dissenting opinion wrote:
“the decision “heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright.”
According to Bernard H. Siegan in the “Supreme Court’s Constitution” :
“.. constitutional law, is quite frequently the rule of persons and NOT of law — a situation that, ironically, a constitutional system is supposed to preclude”
Like Marshall, ignoring the intent of the founders as recorded in the record of the Constitutional Convention, in McCulloch v Maryland, the Pennsylvania Justices ignored the history of the State of Pennsylvania’s strong support of the right of privacy and due process before search and seizure.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has effectively done a great disservice to the Citizens of the State; Citizens depending on the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution of the State against encroachments by the State itself .
Pennsylvania joins many other States saddling up with the Federal Government and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Constitution to dismantle the rights and privacy of the Citizens, while supporting the outrageous growth of totalitarian power of the Federal and State Governments.
Money and Corruption Are ruining the land Crooked politicians Betray the working man, Pocketing the profits And treating us like sheep, And we’re tired of hearing promises That we know they’ll never keep Ray Davies : The Kinks
Several possible reasons exist for the State of Pennsylvania and other States to reduce the power of State Constitutions in the area of privacy and warrantless searches: Civil Forfeiture and the corruption of a private prison industrial complex.
Pennsylvania is ranked among the worst in the Union for Civil Forfeiture law. According to the institute for Justice :
“Pennsylvania has terrible civil forfeiture laws. The government can civilly forfeit property by a preponderance of the evidence showing that the property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture, a standard significantly lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard required for a criminal conviction. And property owners, not the government, bear the burden of proof in innocent owner claims, making property owners effectively guilty until proven innocent. Worse still, all of the money seized by law enforcement agencies and forfeited ultimately makes its way back into their hands. The money is first distributed to the district attorney and state Attorney General, and, under the law, they must use it for enforcement of drug laws. Pennsylvania law enforcement officials take advantage of the commonwealth’s broad forfeiture laws. In just a three-year period (2000-2002), more than $20.2 million in currency, vehicles, real estate and other property was forfeited.”
The State of Pennsylvania makes a living on pirating property from captive State residents and, as of 2011, was in the top 10 states showing increasing prison populations year over year for the previous three years.
Just googling Pennsylvania and Civil Forfeiture will produce pages of horror stories of Pennsylvania Pirates preying on property of the people. Pennsylvania is one of 28 states with so-called ‘3 strike’ laws mandating life sentences to people convicted of certain crimes more than two times. These ‘3-strike’ laws are horrendously unfair and often result in someone going to jail for life for some minor infraction of the law. For example, let say a two-time felon is stopped on the highway and police using ‘probable cause’ is searched and a few leaves of a marijuana plant are discovered – this guy may be heading for life in jail for some plant he happen to have in his possession.
Even more interesting is this fact: Pennsylvania is also listed with Arizona, South Carolina and South Dakota as having the largest increases in private prison populations with at least 17% more inmates in private facilities in 2011 than in 2010. [D]
It is easy to see why Pennsylvania has a financial interest in being able to quickly and easily search vehicles and mobile property without the hassle of Constitutional precautions and due process. The possibilities for rampant corruption in a system where “probable cause” can be manufactured at the scene of a traffic stop or other encounter with ‘law enforcement’ and then using Civil Forfeiture and possible State financial arrangements with a rising private prison industrial complex – ‘officials’ and ‘public servants’ and private prison corporations all dine at the table of stolen loot of Pennsylvania State citizens.
America has long ago lost the protections vaguely described in the United States Constitution, but discussed in detailed during the Constitutional Convention, and now States are falling like Dominoes in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution was created with poison pills against the use of the document for limiting the powers and scope of influence of the Federal Government. Created as a convenience organization charged with limited and clearly enumerated powers leaving all other powers to the States and the People, the Federal Government is now a predatory oligarchy under the control of a global cabal of hereditary wealthy elite intent on enslaving the entire human family on Earth.
The founding fathers, sympathetic to the ennoblement, enlightenment, liberty and happiness of the common man, provided Americans with many ways to push back against the rise of tyranny in the Federal Government and the Union of States. States as independent Republics, are one of the ways Americans can stand against the rising tsunami of lawlessness and totalitarianism being exported by the Federal Government of the United States to the States. States can take serious the importance of the tenth amendment and using the wisdom passed on by those founding member States refusing at first to ratify the United States Constitution without both the tenth amendment and clarification statements given prior to signing the Constitution.
The State of Virginia for example, reiterated that all powers granted under the Constitution are derived from the people of the States and
“may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination can be cancelled abridged restrained or modified by the Congress by the Senate or the House of Representatives acting in any Capacity by the President or any Department or Officer of the United States except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes.[B]”
States organizing around the words of the founders during Constitutional debates in Philadelphia beginning in 1787 as recorded in the Federalist Papers, and other records of the Convention, can find strength and justification for nullifying Federal Laws and “resuming the powers” only delegated to the Federal Government which are have now been “perverted to their injury.”
Other ways include impeaching Supreme Court Justices, it has only been done once on the national level and at least once at the State Supreme Court Level however, as of this writing, proceedings in Oklahoma are in progress to impeach five Supreme Court Justices for granting a stay of execution in a particularly gruesome murder case involving children. [E]
If Oklahoma can impeach five Supreme Court Justices for just a stay of execution, Pennsylvanians can impeach six for circumventing the established law of the State for two hundred years.
Finally, it may be also be possible to make void Constitutional infringements made by Supreme Court Justices when if it can be shown they are operating illegally without having property taken and affirmed their oath to the Constitution.
Private Attorney General, author, inventor and defender of the US Constitution, Paul Andrew Mitchell has shown countless numbers of court officials, attorneys, United States Supreme Court Justices and Clerks of the various courts have not properly affirmed their oath to the United States Constitution and are operating as impostors.
… Power to the People, Right On – John Lennon
America is an idea, a beautiful and powerful example of what can be done when people are free to speak, free to act, interact, share, learn, contribute and self organize in a natural way. America has been a testimony to limited government, a conclusive experiment in what can be done when people have property rights, rule of law and coercive free markets and minds.
But, America’s time in the Sun has passed as cartels, monopoly capitalist using regulatory capture, legislative bribery, unconstitutional executive orders, currency and credit scams plus Supreme Court manipulation have perverted America into something quite ordinary; America is now no more than a corrupt, collectivist, Oligarchy floundering in a sea of mediocrity.
Only by aggressively acting to take back the powers of the Sovereign States and the powers of the People can any of the coming calamity and misery be avoided.
The time has come to reread the Declaration of Independence and for Citizens of States with Constitutions like Pennsylvania that declare in Article I, section 2 :
“All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”
To alter, reform or abolish their government and begin again.
Asset Forfeiture: http://walker-foundation.org/Files/walker/2011/AFjournalofcriminaljustice.pdf
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)