(NaturalNews) In the “land of the free,” where the principle of “freedom of movement” was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a constitutional right as far back as 1823, today, it seems, there is no such “right,” at least as far as some federal agencies are concerned.
You can blame a familiar culprit: the “war” on drugs.
As reported by TechDirt, USA Today reporter Brad Heath made an interesting observation in a tweet, pointing out that an asset forfeiture file from the California Central District Court made such drug-related generalizations about a pair of American cities, it made everyone who travels between them a prospective suspect:
Chicago is a known consumer city for narcotics and Los Angeles is a known source city where narcotics can be purchased.
Really? Are these the only two American cities where this is true? You know the answer to that, of course – they’re not. So that must mean everyone who travels is potentially a drug-smuggling mule – right?
No, you really don’t have “freedom to travel”
As TechDirt pointed out, there are other major hubs being “watched” by federal drug agents, as well as other otherwise normal behaviors, that could get you on a suspect list:
Turns out this sort of ridiculous assertion isn’t limited to this particular filing. Law enforcement agencies are of the firm belief that traveling between any cities where drugs might be “consumed” (which would be every city in the US) and any cities where drugs might be sold (again, the list is long and inclusive) is a healthy indicator of drug-related activity.
The site linked to a map which lists “known” drug “sources” [in red] and “destination” cities [blue], along with links to relevant court filings or claims made by law enforcement officials. So, pretty much all travel between any large city and anywhere else could be interpreted by federal officials as a drug run.
Fortunately, sometimes U.S. federal courts are not at all impressed with such generalizations. Consider, in US v. Green [link]:
Once we discount the facts with which we find weaknesses, we are left with Green’s arrival on a plane from a known source city, and her vagueness about the purpose of her trip. These facts are insufficient to demonstrate a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity.
And this, from US v. Newland [linkPDF]:
Given that nearly every stretch of interstate is considered a drug corridor, the fact that a stop occurred on any such route is almost meaningless. See United States v. Wisniewksi, 358 F. Supp. 2d 1074, 1093 (D. Utah 2005) (“[T]raveling on a ‘drug corridor’ cannot reasonably support a suspicion that the traveler is carrying contraband. To so hold would give law enforcement officers reasonable suspicion that every vehicle on every major—and many minor—thoroughfares throughout this country was transporting drugs.”), aff’d, 192 Fed. App’x 749 (10th Cir. 2006). Furthermore, because of courts’ willingness to designate various cities and states as “source” regions for narcotics, it is likely that most major roads in this country could be considered drug corridors. … (“[C]onsidering the substantial number of states and cities that have been designated as sources of drugs, a motorist, in our highly mobile society, would be hard pressed not to travel either from, to, or through a drug-source jurisdiction.”) [emphases added].
This is why we need politicians and public servants to reaffirm the Constitution
For the record, the principle of freedom of movement was mentioned in Corfield v. Coryell, with the high court referencing the Privileges and Immunities Clause in the Constitution. That clause states, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”
Later, in an 1869 case, the court further recognized the “right of free ingress into other States, and egress from them.” However, the courts did not invest the authority to protect freedom of movement in the federal government; that right was delegated to the states under the constitutional principles associated with federalism.
But when the country drifts far from its constitutional moorings, that’s when these kinds of federal assumptions (and infringements) on founding principles occur, and Americans of any or no political persuasion are equally affected.
Written by J. D. Heyes
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