If there is any doubt that the government has pushed us to the edge of the abyss and its yawning depths seductively leer back at us, a recent First Amendment case in San Diego, pressed by the Obama Administration [although there is no reason to believe that the previous Cheney Administration would not have done the same] should erase all doubts.
Recalling as we must, but obviously increasingly forgotten by “The Man,” which now sadly includes the Courts [despite Federalist 78], the core of the speech/press protections recognized by the First Amendment [not created but recognized] is political speech. Keeping our government [OUR government] in check by writing about and otherwise publicizing its activities was understood by the Framers to be the summum bonum of First Amendment values. Political speech was to have virtually no limitation, because the power of the people over its government has no limitation – we are the government, and its actors are our servants.
That being the founding and fundamental understanding, the recent Ramirez v. Homeland Security, CASE NO. 12-CV-2600 W (BLM), in the Southern District, Hon. Thomas Whelan, is most alarming. Mr. Ramirez, an American citizen, was coming back across the border from Mexico on foot when he saw some male immigration officers hand-searching [groping?] females who were crossing over at the pedestrian checkpoint below him. They were only patting down females. Sensing that was not right [because it isn’t], he took out his smart phone and took about 10 pictures of the unsettling event.
A uniformed thug from the department asked for his papers and demanded the camera. Mr. Ramirez advised that he had already cleared through lawfully and he declined the demands, and he took a picture of the officer.
He was then accosted by more immigration cops. “Mr. Ramirez told the officers that he had taken photographs of ‘what he believed to be inappropriate activity by CBP officers at the checkpoint–namely, the patting down of women by male officers.’ After Mr. Ramirez refused the officer’s request to turn over his phone, he offered to show them the pictures.”
“Then, a U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agent confronted
Mr. Ramirez and asked him for his personal identification documents. Mr. Ramirez again refused, and explained that he and his wife had already been inspected. The ICE agent took Mr. Ramirez’s and Mr. Ramirez’s wife’s passports and brought them to a nearby office. While in the office, a CBP officer scrolled through the photos on Mr. Ramirez’s phone and deleted all the photos Mr. Ramirez had
taken of the CBP checkpoint. The ICE agent returned the passports and allowed them to continue on their way.”
A second plaintiff, Ray Askins, was treated even more shabbily: “On or about April 19, 2012, Mr. Askins took ‘three or four photographs of the exit of the secondary inspection area’ while standing approximately ‘50-100 feet from the exit from the secondary inspection area.’ When he took these pictures, he was in the United States and ‘not engaged in the act of crossing the border.’ After Mr. Askins took the pictures, CBP officers demanded Mr. Askins delete the photos. Mr. Askins refused, and the officers stated they would ‘smash the camera if Mr. Askins did not delete the photos.’ He again declined, explaining that the photos were his property. At that point, the officers handcuffed Mr. Askins and took his camera, passport, car keys, and hat. Mr. Askins was forcefully lead into a small room inside the secondary inspection area and told to sit down. He was not free to leave. He was next lead to a separate room where he was ‘subjected . . . to an invasive and embarrassing physical search.’ After the search, the officers told Mr. Askins he was free to go and returned his belongings. Upon inspection of his phone, he realized that three of the four pictures he had taken of the port of entry had been deleted.”
This all happened in America, Folks: the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, with a court system designed to protect us from the rapacious Hun – so these victims of American government brutality had their rights vindicated by the Court, right? Uh…, NO!
“For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that CBP’s photography policy survives the strict scrutiny analysis due to the extremely compelling interest of border security and the fact that the Court finds the current policy to be the least restrictive alternative available to Defendants.”
Uh…, HELLOOOO! Is this judge applying to be one of the pro-American terrorism judges on the secret FISA Court? This ruling is straight out of I. Muller, Hitler’s Justice: Courts of the Third Reich (Schneider trans. Harvard 1991).
These people are Americans, standing on American soil, recording what is in open public areas, and the First Amendment does not protect their recordation of what their government is doing to fellow citizens??/!
For shame, Judge Thomas Whelan, for shame. The abyss yawns back at us with a leer and a sneer.