Trenton, NJ — In 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that police could only violate your 4th Amendment rights by warrantlessly searching you, if they prove two key factors first. Those two key factors, or two-pronged test, required both probable cause and a reason to believe evidence might disappear, or the safety of the officer or public would be at risk if the search were delayed to obtain a warrant.
However, on Thursday, the court overturned its meager rights-protecting decision from 2009. In an ominous 5-2 decision, the state Supreme Court gave police even more power and opportunity to violate the rights of the citizens.
The court’s decision stemmed from a case in which a Salem County man was found with an ‘illegal’ handgun after he was pulled over for his headlights being too bright.
William L. Witt was pulled over on Route 48 in Carneys Point in December 2012 after he approached a police officer with his high beams on and “failed to dim” as he passed. After speaking with Witt, the officer concluded he was intoxicated, performed a field sobriety test and placed him under arrest, according to NJ.com.
After arresting Witt for an alleged DUI, police officers then illegally searched his car without a warrant and without Witt’s consent. During this unlawful search, police found an unregistered handgun.
Citing the 2009 decision, Witt fought to suppress the fact that he merely wanted to protect himself with a handgun by claiming that the police performed an unreasonable search in violation of the state and federal constitutions.
In May of 2014, New Jersey officials, still showing some semblance of protecting the rights of the people, ruled that the officer did not meet the “exigent circumstances” needed to violate the rights of Witt.
However, that constitutional decision would be short-lived. On Thursday, police were give the authority to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe there is contraband or evidence of a crime as long as the circumstances that led to the probable cause are unforeseeable and spontaneous.
In other words, cops in New Jersey, can now make up any reason they want to search your private property.
“One can only wonder why the State and the majority of this Court find it appropriate to turn from the progressive approach historically taken in this State to privacy and constitutional rights of motorists,” Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote in her dissent.
The door has once again been left wide open for abuse by police in searching vehicles. With the billions stolen annually from innocent people in the name of civil asset forfeiture, does it seem like a good idea to give police even more power to violate the rights of the citizens?
Perhaps the five judges who voted in favor of warrantless searches wanted a raise.
In an Orwellian fashion, acting Attorney General John Hoffman says the ruling achieves an appropriate balance between protecting constitutional rights and public safety.
Those who support this ridiculous breach of the privacy of citizens have taken to the internet by repeating the call of the slave, “If you aren’t doing anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about.”
But what they really mean is, “Why have any rights at all? Rights must only be for criminals.”
Share this article with your friends and family in hopes of stopping other states from adopting this rights-violating policy.