Recently, Georgetown Law School hosted a panel discussion on the 4th Amendment that included powerful federal Judge Richard Posner, who has been called the 20th Century’s most cited legal scholar by The Journal of Legal Studies.
In this discussion, Judge Posner got into an exchange with Georgetown National Security and Criminal Justice Professor David Cole, and defended the NSA’s position. “So what’s the big deal?” was the question he posed, entirely serious, to Cole regarding ubiquitous, limitless government spying.
The pertinent clip from the debate can be found HERE, courtesy of C-SPAN.
From there, Judge Posner brought up the mundane details of his dreary existence in an attempt to trivialize the concerns of civil liberties advocates. He said that since law enforcement would only find cat photos and boring conversations on his phone, he didn’t see warrantless spying as a big deal.
Posner went even further, according to The Intercept,“If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine.”
Cole did not accept this rationale.
“That is a very short-sighted way of thinking about the value [of privacy rights]… Privacy is critical to a democracy. It is critical to political freedom. It is critical to intimacy,” Cole said. He went on to describe Martin Luther King Jr. and how the FBI tried to use his personal sexual behavior to blackmail him into giving up his struggle for civil rights.
Judge Posner was not able to respond to Cole with anything other than a snarky comment. As flimsy and comical as his arguments may have been, Judge Posner’s mentality should scare you because he is not alone. By and large, federal judges simply do not think your privacy rights or the 4th Amendment are very important. Because as long as you are not doing something wrong, you should acquiesce to the government being able snoop through all of your personal data without a warrant.
We must understand that this is the entrenched mindset of the federal government in all of its forms. That means if we do not take bold action, our rights will be lost forever. That is why our 4th Amendment Protection Act is so important. It defends privacy rights far away from Washington DC, and can force the NSA to get its act together whether it wants to or not. Don’t rely on the Judge Posners of the world. Get active now, and defend the 4th Amendment before it’s too late!