Thursday, April 4, 2013

No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Sniffs

Several years ago there was this Englishwoman – I forget her name – who wrote a book, it was probably one of many, about dogs. It was called No Bad Dogs. She was really quite an amazing person: she would approach any dog even dogs with a reputation for being vicious, and these dogs would accept her like one of the family. None of them ever attacked her or was anything but nice to her. It was really quite an amazing thing to see. And as a dog lover, I've often had that phrase "no bad dogs" reverberate in my head whenever I'm around a dog who's skittish or nervous or even threatening. I often had this thought about dogs when I see the K-9 corps dogs, cop dogs, dogs who've been trained to either attack people on command or sniff out drugs, explosives, etc. Not that these jobs are necessary sometimes, although I do question attack dogs almost on principle, because somehow it seems unfair to the canines to put them to such uses. Because basically it goes against the nature of the dog, its basic nature, to do things harmful to human beings. Dogs are at their core devoted to people. Of all the animals on earth, their lives are the most closely integrated with ours.

Anyway, all this just leads up to a satisfying report on the Supreme Court's decision in Florida v. Jardines, an opinion was handed down recently. "In an opinion written by Justice Scalia, the Court affirmed the Florida Supreme Court. The Court held a dog sniff at the front door of the house where the police suspected drugs were being grown constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment." And it was therefore illegal without a warrant.  In essence, they found that the police would be trespassing in this case.

You got to get a picture here. The cops, or the DEA guys, with their dogs just come up on your porch– without a warrant – and let them have a sniff around. If the dogs alert, they bust in your door and collar you for those pot plants or your stash. (Or they say "whoops" because I can't find anything. either way, they bust into your house and search it without the authority to do so.) The Supreme Court said that's a no-no. You can read more about the Court's reasoning here. But it should be noted that it was a 5-4 decision, in the most unlikeliest of justices was the swing vote here. So the American people came within an ace of seeing their civil liberties erode even more.

But never fear: that will happen again soon enough.
Post a Comment