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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/16/10

Chief Judge of 9th Circuit: "1984 here at last," especially for poor

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Message Adam Bessie

Somebody, call Fox quickly!

Alas, Fox will have a hard time knowing what to make of this one, which is likely why his words aren't there, nor apparently in any major corporate outlet as of 8/14/10.

Kozinski is far from a liberal plant: he counseled Ronald Reagan at the start of his presidency, and was appointed by Reagan to the appeals court in 1985, and according to Emily Bazelon's profile on the Judge in Legal Affairs, he has a picture with Reagan in his office. And according to the profile, "he is deeply suspicious of government power," and a staunch defender of private property and the right to bear arms. And yet, according to Bazelon, Kozinki doesn't appear a man to toe the party line. He also has a picture in his office with US Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr., a "liberal hero" and model "activist judge" who, according to the Washington Post "believed the courts should right social wrongs." The Associated Press dubs Kozinski a "Libertarian" Bazelon calls him, playfully, a "troublemaker."

And in his dissenting opinion, which I've reprinted in part below (and you can read in its entirety here), you can see this troublemaker at work, arguing that the judicial system is paving the way for "Oceania," particularly if you happen to be a prole.

Kozinski's dissent is a must-read an eloquent plea to defend our right to privacy. In this first portion, he focuses on the unequal application of the Fourth Amendment for the rich and poor in this case:

The panel authorizes police to do not only what invited strangers could, but also uninvited children--in this case crawl under the car to retrieve a ball and tinker with the undercarriage. But there's no limit to what neighborhood kids will do, given half a chance: They'll jump the fence, crawl under the porch, pick fruit from the trees, set fire to the cat and micturate on the azaleas. To say that the police may do on your property what urchins might do spells the end of Fourth Amendment protections for most people's curtilage [part of a homeowner's property].

The very rich will still be able to protect their privacy with the aid of gates, tall fences, security booths, remote cameras, motion sensors and roving patrols, but the vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling. Open driveways, unenclosed porches, basement doors left unlocked, back doors left ajar, yard gates left unlatched, garage doors that don't quite close, ladders propped up under an open window will all be considered invitations for police to sneak in on the theory that a neighborhood child might, in which case, the homeowner "would have no grounds to complain." Id.

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Adam Bessie is an assistant professor of English at Diablo Valley College, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a co-wrote a chapter in the 2011 edition of Project Censored on metaphor and political language, and is a frequent contributor to (more...)
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