The Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement director, Andrew Ceresney, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the warrant requirement required by federal law is “impeding the ability of the SEC and other civil law enforcement agencies to investigate and uncover financial fraud.”
This, carefully, from an unelected mucky-muck of an unelected—and so unbeholden and unresponsive to us mere Americans—agency of the Federal government. The 4th Amendment’s requirement for warrants before government may conduct searches of private holdings is in the way of Big Government snooping, and so a way around that has gotta be found.
President Barack Obama’s Justice Department agrees with the SEC. Elana Tyrangiel, the Office of Legal Policy, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, said this in the same hearing with an absolutely straight face:
Personal privacy is critically important to all Americans—including those of us who serve in the government. The Department remains concerned, however, about the effect a blanket warrant requirement would have on its civil operations…. Lacking warrant authority, civil investigators enforcing civil rights, environmental, antitrust, and a host of other laws would be left unable to obtain stored communications content from providers.
Never mind that if those civil investigators can’t even make a probable cause case in front of a judge known to those investigators to grant warrants easily—and there are potsful of easy judges—they don’t have a case to investigate.
Inquiring government minds want to know. That’s good enough. No government official would ever abuse that….