Obstruction of justice does just that, by impeding that justice be done, but for the New York Civil Liberties Association, due process is far more important. A new bill being proposed by New York City Council, and supported by the New York Civil Liberties Association, would require the police to request a written or audio permission – does that mean a taped response?? – from suspects they wish to search, when a warrant has not been issued and when probable cause is not certain. In essence, it would extend the Miranda Warning to searches. Otherwise, potential suspects may unwittingly allow the police to search them and discover things like weapons and drugs. While one can make an argument in terms of due process, it seems a long way from the Fifth Amendment’s original intention which was to prevent unreasonable search and seizure. NYC police already operate under a number of checks and balances to ensure that intrusive searches are as infrequent as possible, and are often punished in broad daylight for overstepping the line. How they would be able to operate effectively under this new bill is a troubling question. It will likely become a sport to defy and refuse when an officer requests a potential suspect’s consent for a search, and may further endanger the lives of police officials in NYC. A similar law is in effect in Colorado and West Virginia but both are a long way from NYC in every sense of the word.

In an adversarial legal system, a straight admission of guilt, or a clumsy act of self-incrimination is viewed as justice denied. Is it? In an age in which legal academics Allen, Ferrall, & Ratnaswamy, writing in the Valparaiso Law Review on self-incrimination, state that “Constitutional interpretation should not be viewed as predominantly a logical matter, but instead as involving the reasoned revision of belief”, then what starts to matter is who you are and how you feel, and not what you may do, or may have done. Crime a problem in NYC? Change your beliefs and define the problem away. It is no accident that they enthusiastically dissect Justice Scalia’s sin of logical deductions. So we live in an age of enshrined identity politics in which the only logic that matters is process. And bills like the one proposed by the New York City Council are inevitable. And it will make an NYC police officer’s job that much tougher.

Comments