Once again, we’re told, intrusive government ends justify the means. Adam Cohen, Time, reported today on a ruling by the (infamous) 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, San Francisco, that there is no right to the expectation of privacy in your own driveway. That is, unless you’re rich enough to have a private gate, wall or other barrier to entry. The 2007 case began in Oregon, when Drug Enforcement (DEA) agents decided to monitor Juan Pineda-Moreno for suspected growing and selling of marijuana. Agents visited Pineda-Moreno’s driveway, in the middle of the night, and attached a GPS device to his Jeep.
The ruling now applies to California and eight other western states, but could eventually end up in the Supreme Court.
From Cohen’s article entitled “The Government’s New Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS,” (from Yahoo News) :
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month’s decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people’s. The court’s ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.
Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. “There’s been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there’s one kind of diversity that doesn’t exist,” he wrote. “No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter.” The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of “cultural elitism.”
The Court then ruled that once the GPS device is planted, no warrant is necessary to continue tracking the target. (One day, will checking for and removing GPS devices become a deluxe add-on service at your local Jiffy Lube?)
Plenty of liberals have objected to this kind of spying, but it is the conservative Chief Judge Kozinski who has done so most passionately. “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last,” he lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell’s totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: “Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we’re living in Oceania.”
Read more about the case at Yahoo News