Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I'm emailing this date. I'll update this post if/when it's published. (I appreciate that I've quite recently been published, and that the News-Press wants only one letter per month.)

Update: The letter was published on June 29, 2014.

Dear Editor:

Breaking news! Progressives and Conservatives agree on something – and it's something important, very important! I'm referring to Riley v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court's 9-0 decision (that's unanimous, my friends – with one of the conservative Justices, Alito, concurring in the result), issued June 25, denying police officers the ability to search an arrestee's cellphone content without first obtaining a warrant.

Why so important? Because – again, unanimously – the court's decision addresses the balance of the government's interest in crime detection against the citizen's right to privacy – and firmly strikes the balance in favor of the latter. The tilt of that balance, so long favoring law enforcement by means of internet surveillance, indefinite detention, airplane-travelers' searches, ubiquitous TV cameras, finally tipped in the direction that both stripes of Americans – folks of the Left as well as Right – have long sought. The Court recognized how prevalent were cell phones and how broad and intrinsically personal was their content that police were not allowed, under the Fourth Amendment's search-and-seizure provisions, to examine the phone's data absent a court-approved warrant.

There are other issues on which Left and Right agree. Both deem suspect any government intrusion into citizens' private lives; both favor robust public discourse and protest; both seek government truth and transparency; both despise government waste, whether in domestic or foreign (including military) expenditure.

Could the Riley decision make these seemingly "opposing" forces – from Tea Party to Occupy to Green – realize their common bonds and, more importantly, unify to take actions to effectuate them?