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Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Warrantless Gun Confiscations

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear oral argument in Caniglia v. Strom, a case that could have sweeping consequences for policing, due process, and mental health, with the Biden Administration and attorneys general from nine states urging the High Court to uphold warrantless gun confiscation. But what would ultimately become a major Fourth Amendment case began with an elderly couple’s spat over a coffee mug.

In August 2015, 68-year-old Edward Caniglia joked to Kim, his wife of 22 years, that he didn’t use a certain coffee mug after his brother-in-law had used it because he “might catch a case of dishonesty.” That quip quickly spiraled into an hour-long argument. Growing exhausted from the bickering, Edward stormed into his bedroom, grabbed an unloaded handgun, and put it on the kitchen table in front of his wife. With a flair for the dramatic, he then asked: “Why don’t you just shoot me and get me out of my misery?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tactic backfired and the two continued to argue. Eventually, Edward took a drive to cool off. But when he returned, their argument flared up once again. This time, Kim decided to leave the house and spend the night at a motel. The next day, Kim phoned home. No answer.

Worried, she called the police in Cranston, Rhode Island and asked them to perform a “well check” on her husband and to escort her home. When they arrived, officers spoke with Edward on the back deck. According to an incident report, he “seemed normal,” “was calm for the most part,” and even said “he would never commit suicide.”

However, none of the officers had asked Edward any questions about the factors relating to his risk of suicide, risk of violence, or prior misuse of firearms. (Edward had no criminal record and no history of violence or self-harm.) In fact, one of the officers later admitted he “did not consult any specific psychological or psychiatric criteria” or medical professionals for his decisions that day.

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Still, police were convinced that Edward could hurt himself and insisted he head to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. After refusing and insisting that his mental health wasn’t their business, Edward agreed only after police (falsely) promised they wouldn’t seize his guns while he was gone.

Compounding the dishonesty, police then told Kim that Edward had consented to the confiscation. Believing the seizures were approved by her husband, Kim led the officers to the two handguns the couple owned, which were promptly seized. Even though Edward was immediately discharged from the hospital, police only returned the firearms after he filed a civil rights lawsuit against them.

Critically, when police seized the guns, they didn’t claim it was an emergency or to prevent imminent danger. Instead, the officers argued their actions were a form of “community caretaking,” a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

First created by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago, the community caretaking exception was designed for cases involving impounded cars and highway safety, on the grounds that police are often called to car accidents to remove nuisances like inoperable vehicles on public roads.

Both a district and appellate court upheld the seizures as “reasonable” under the community caretaking exception. In deciding Caniglia’s case, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals acknowledged that “the doctrine’s reach outside the motor vehicle context is ill-defined.” Nevertheless, the court decided to extend that doctrine to cover private homes, ruling that the officers “did not exceed the proper province of their community caretaking responsibilities.”

Siding with law enforcement, the First Circuit noted that a police officer “must act as a master of all emergencies, who is ‘expected to…provide an infinite variety of services to preserve and protect community safety.’” By letting police operate without a warrant, the community caretaking exception is “designed to give police elbow room to take appropriate action,” the court added.

In their opening brief for the Supreme Court, attorneys for Caniglia warned that “extending the community caretaking exception to homes would be anathema to the Fourth Amendment” because it “would grant police a blank check to intrude upon the home.”

That fear is not unwarranted. In jurisdictions that have extended the community caretaking exception to homes, “everything from loud music to leaky pipes have been used to justify warrantless invasion of the home,” a joint amicus brief by the ACLU, the Cato Institute, and the American Conservative Union revealed.

This expansion could also have perverse effects and disincentivize people from calling for help. As that brief noted, “When every interaction with police or request for help can become an invitation for police to invade the home, the willingness of individuals to seek assistance when it is most needed will suffer.”

But in its first amicus brief before the High Court, the Biden Administration glossed over these concerns and called on the justices to uphold the First Circuit’s ruling. Noting that “the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is ‘reasonableness,’” the Justice Department argued that warrants should not be “presumptively required when a government official’s action is objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety.”

“The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception,” their brief stated, “but instead whether those actions were reasonable,” actions the Justice Department felt were “justified” in Caniglia’s case.

As a fail-safe, the Justice Department also urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court ruling on qualified immunity grounds, arguing that the officers’ “actions did not violate any clearly established law so as to render the officers individually liable in a damages action.”

But the Biden Administration, along with the courts that have extended the community caretaking exception, overlook a key component of the Fourth Amendment: the Security Clause. After all, the Fourth Amendment opens with the phrase, “the right of the people to be secure.”

In an amicus brief, the Institute for Justice noted that “to the Founding generation, ‘secure’ did not simply mean the right to be ‘spared’ an unreasonable search or seizure” but also involved “harms attributable to the potential for unreasonable searches and seizures.” Expanding the community caretaking exception to “allow warrantless entries into peoples’ homes on a whim,” argued the IJ brief, “invokes the arbitrary, looming threat of general writs that so incited the Framers” and would undermine “the right of the people to be secure” in their homes.

The IJ brief further argued that extending the “community caretaking” exception to the home would “flatly contradict” the Supreme Court’s prior rulings, which “has only discussed community caretaking in the context of vehicle searches and seizures.” In those cases, “the animating purpose for the exception [was] to allow officers to remove damaged or abandoned vehicles that pose a risk to public safety.” By contrast, the IJ amicus asserted,  “that justification is entirely absent” when it comes to homes.

“The Fourth Amendment protects our right to be secure in our property, which means the right to be free from fear that the police will enter your house without warning or authorization,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Joshua Windham. “A rule that allows police to burst into your home without a warrant whenever they feel they are acting as ‘community caretakers’ is a threat to everyone’s security.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I’m a writer and legislative analyst at the Institute for Justice (IJ), a public interest law firm. As a member of IJ’s Communications team, I regularly write opeds and blog about economic liberty, private property rights, the First Amendment and judicial engagement. On the legislative side, I’ve worked with state and federal lawmakers from both parties to overhaul civil forfeiture and occupational licensing, securing landmark reforms in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nebraska and New Hampshire. My columns at Forbes.com have been cited by several law review journals, the Center for American Progress, the Heritage Foundation, The Economist, SCOTUSblog and the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. Outside of Forbes, my work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Post, Barron’s, The Guardian, Slate, Wired, Reason, and numerous newspapers nationwide.

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Exposed: Government-Sponsored Experiments on Aborted Human Fetuses at the University of Pittsburgh – FETUS TRAFFICKING

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David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress testified about fetal experimentation before the Pennsylvania House Committee on Health on this week and exposed the government-sponsored trafficking of human fetuses.

Publicly available information demonstrates that Pitt hosts some of the most barbaric experiments carried out on aborted human infants, including scalping 5-month-old aborted fetuses to stitch onto lab rats, exporting fetal kidneys across the country, and killing infants delivered alive for liver harvesting–funded by U.S. taxpayers via the National Institutes of Health, and in particular Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID office.

Local Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania abortion providers supply the aborted fetuses, while Pitt sponsors the local Planned Parenthood’s operations, in what looks like an illegal Quid Pro Quo for fetal body parts, forbidden by 42 U.S. Code 289g-2 and 18 Pennsylvania Statutes 3216. Pennsylvania law also makes it a felony to experiment on a living fetus or to fail to provide immediate medical care to an infant born alive.

Listen to David Daleiden’s interview with Rose Unplugged on WJAS 1320 AM:

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VIDEO: Criminal FBI-DOJ Began Secretly Spying on Rudy Giuliani on May 1, 2018 — THE DAY HE BECAME TRUMP’S ATTORNEY

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There is no law and order in America today.
Only corrupt Marxists and totalitarians punishing anyone who stands in their way.

The criminals at the DOJ-FBI started spying on American patriot Rudy Giuliani on May 2, 2018. That was THE SAME DAY he agreed to become President Trump’s attorney in the Russia Hoax scandal.

This should be one of the top stories of the year! Instead, it’s being totally ignored by the Fake News media.

Rudy dropped this bomb today on the Bannon War Room.

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Via The War Room:

Rudy Giuliani revealed the federal government secured a covert warrant to spy on him the exact same day he became President Donald Trump’s attorney.

Giuliani told War Room, Wednesday, the secret warrant was secured on May 1, 2018 — meaning the government had access to the President’s most personal and sacrosanct communications with his lawyer during both sham impeachments.

“I think we’ve got a heck of an argument to dismiss,” Giuliani said, in regards to the Biden regime’s political and illegal raid on his apartment.

“And with regard to the much worse surveillance and the taking of my iCloud account from the first day that I became Donald Trump’s lawyer,” he said.

“They didn’t even make any bones about it,” Giuliani said. “They had no interest in me before. It begins May 1, 2018. That’s when it was first in the newspapers. Immediately they go get my stuff, at least retroactively, they examine the entire attorney client relationship for a year and a half. This is unheard of.”

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Exclusive–David Ray: The U.S. Is an Accomplice to the Largest Child Trafficking Operation in U.S. History

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While that statement might be shocking, it’s actually going on right now. Except in 2021, the problem is much, much bigger, meaning so is the pool of victims. In March of 2019, when that statement was made, there were roughly 9,380 UAMs apprehended at the border. Those numbers have absolutely exploded – nearing 19,000 last month alone. Today, more than 23,000 UAMs are in the custody of the federal government.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that those numbers will go down anytime soon, since the Biden Administration has promised to not send any of these minors back home and word has spread like wildfire that the U.S. border is severely under protected and easily exploited. And the most devastating fact is that it’s the Biden Administration that has not only caused this spike in child trafficking, but shows no desire to try and deter future surges, despite plenty of evidence of child abuse.

Sadly for these kids, they’re not only being exploited along the way – nearly 70 percent of migrants report being victims of violence during their trip to the U.S.- but their lives are being put in danger, sometimes on purpose, to distract Border Patrol so that illegal and criminal aliens can successfully smuggle drugs, humans and weapons into this country.

Of course there were the two young Ecuadorean girls who were simply dropped off the border wall into the U.S. by their smuggler, who probably didn’t know or care if someone would find them before they succumbed to the desert elements. And then there’s the case of the six month old baby girl thrown from a raft into the Rio Grande River last month, probably as a way to force the Border Patrol to focus on a river rescue while the rest of the raft occupants tried to sneak into the U.S. undetected.

Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) recently visited the border and reported that many children are now simply being left at the river with phone numbers of relatives in the U.S., most of whom are likely here illegally. The incessant surge of children has resulted in 34 percent of Border Patrol agents being pulled off the border in order to babysit.

Overcrowded detention facilities, while COVID continues to ravage the country, remains an ongoing problem. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) noted that a facility that he visited had a capacity of 250 but was actually warehousing more than 5,000 people.

Thankfully, the dangers these kids face have not gone unnoticed. The president of Guatemala recently criticized the Biden administration, scolding it for sending mixed and confusing messages about their welcoming of illegal aliens – particularly illegal alien children – into the U.S. “So a huge wave of migrant unaccompanied children starts, that’s a matter of concern because as soon as they cross the border between Mexico and the U.S., they fall into the hands of cartels for prostitution networks and so on,” he said.

The other side of this tragedy, which is getting very little media attention, is the success at which people looking to evade detection while entering the U.S. illegally – notably those with ties to terrorism, criminal aliens, and human and drug smuggling – are entering undetected in massive numbers.

Border Patrol agent Art del Cueto recently noted that in the Tucson sector alone, tens of thousands of “got aways” or those who make it into the U.S. undetected, was a serious public health and public safety issue. “I can tell you here in Tucson Sector, because agents are having to deal with the unaccompanied juveniles and the family units, year to date — this is just a guess — they’re looking at over 40,000 people that have gotten away.”

The final point to make about this crisis is that it’s making the Mexican cartels filthy rich, with some estimating they are making nearly $14 million per day with their human smuggling operations. Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX) recently noted that illegal immigrants being held in Corrizo Springs, Texas, have acknowledged that they will be forced to ‘pay off’ their debts to the cartels – which their families can not afford, by going to work for the cartels once they’re in the U.S.

The administration not only refuses to send Border Czar Kamala Harris to the border, it appears they are expecting the situation will get much, much worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, instead of talking about deterring future illegal immigration, the administration is instead focused on making the processing more efficient. An early April trip by the House Judiciary committee was told that the administration will soon be able to process 60,000 children every 24 days. That’s hundreds of thousands of kids coming into the country over the next year.

We’re soon to face a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis with no end in sight. The public should be very concerned.

Dave Ray is communications director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.

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