A Number of Misunderstandings

Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring hotel operators to give up data in their guest registers to the police, even when they don’t have a warrant.

The ordinance, approved by the city in 2006, requires hotels to collect and maintain guest information such as name and address, the number of people in the guest’s party, vehicle information, arrival and checkout dates, room number, and method of payment. Hotel operators who fail to comply with it face as many as six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

A motel operator demurred, and at this point, the 9th Circuit agrees: they struck the ordinance as unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment.

Even the Brits

This is an amazing development for the authors of the Magna Carta. That charter, recall, codified for the first time in Anglo-American history, limits to government’s (king’s at the time) right to intrude into a man’s private affairs and possessions except under some severely constrained conditions: due process of law.

This is that amazement:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.

The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct 15, permitting police and constabularies to conduct surprise home visits to legitimate gun owners.

In Which the Florida Supreme Court Gets One Right

Police in Florida aren’t allowed to use a cellphone to track someone’s movements according to a sweeping new ruling from the Florida Supreme Court.

The court by a 5-2 vote ruled Thursday that authorities in Broward County had no right to stop and arrest Shawn Tracey for possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine.

The police had a warrant to tap his cell phone calls, but that warrant didn’t include authorization to use his cell phone to track him.

In Which a Political Party Gets It

…and the IOC doesn’t.

Norway, led by its Conservative Party, has declined to support a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics originally offered by its capital, Oslo. The nation was put off by cost concerns—the 2014 Sochi Winter Games ran to $50 billion—and they were put off by IOC…let’s call it arrogance.

Among other IOC demands were requirements for a cocktail reception with the King of Norway (they’re a constitutional monarchy) and special traffic lanes set aside in the middle of Oslo’s busy thoroughfares so that fans of the Games could have priority and their own paths to the games.

A Thought on Birth Control

Dr Manny Alvarez, one of the house doctors for Fox News, had a useful piece the other day on teen birth control, in particular IUDs. He’s basically spring-loaded against them for teenage girls, for a number of reasons.

Very common side effects of placing this foreign object inside the womb include cramping, spotting, heavy menstrual flow and possibly even an infection that could lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease, ultimately rendering the individual infertile.

Not to mention, uterine perforation—although extremely rare….

Rather than IUDs, Alvarez pushed for more sexual education information from (and for, say I) parents and physicians.

Obamatalk

President [Barack] Obama on Friday sought to fine-tune his response to the growing Islamic State terror* threat, vowing to “degrade and ultimately defeat” the network—seemingly abandoning, at least publicly, his previously stated goal of making them a “manageable problem.”

“We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, the same way we have gone after Al Qaeda,” Obama said in Wales, during a press conference at the close of a meeting of NATO allies.

And

Obama on Friday claimed “there was unity” at the NATO summit over the belief that ISIS poses a “significant threat to NATO members” and regarding a readiness to take action.

In Which I both Agree and Disagree

…with a Supreme Court decision. In Mccullen v Coakley, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that placed a mandatory 35 foot buffer zone around abortion clinics within which anti-abortion protests were prohibited. The purpose of the law, to allow women wishing an abortion unfettered access to the clinic, was met, but overbroadly, according to the court.

That’s the part with which I agree. If we’re going to argue as I have in the past that “free speech zones,” like those on too many college campuses, unconstitutionally restrict free speech, then so does the other side of that coin: non-free speech zones. Either we have free speech in this country, or we do not.

Cell Phone Searches

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday police must almost always obtain a warrant before searching mobile devices seized when arresting someone….

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the Court’s unanimously held opinion, said

Modern cellphones aren’t a technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life.”

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cellphone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant[.]

IRS’ Computers

During Monday night’s House Oversight Committee hearing, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen tried to deflect blame for the missing Lerner Emails by claiming that the IRS’ computer systems were outdated, obsolete, prone to PC hard drive crashes, and it’s all due to lack of funding:

It is not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use in light of the continual cuts in its budget these past four years. Since January 1 of this year, for example, over 2,000 employees have suffered hard drive crashes.

The Courts Get Another One Right

Quartavius Davis was convicted of robbing, in 2010, seven stores in and around Miami and sentenced to roughly 162 years in prison. His prosecutors based their case, in large part, on cellphone records that placed Davis near the scene.

The evidence included records of the cell towers to which their phones were connected when they placed and received calls, according to court documents.

These data were obtained solely on the basis of a claim “that the records were relevant and material to an ongoing investigation.”

The 11th Circuit demurred. Writing for a unanimous court, Judge David Sentelle wrote in part