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OpEd: Michigan Court -- OK For Police Drug Dogs To Sniff Around Your Home

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"Michigan is for canine lovers."

That might be the new state motto after a Michigan court said it's legal for police to walk up to homes and have their drug dogs sniff around. Michigan residents should get ready for a lot more canines on their property.

The Michigan Court of Appeals last week ruled that it's okay for police to use dogs to sniff around the exterior of a home to detect drugs without a search warrant. Thus, it's now perfectly legal in Michigan for the police to walk up to a home, use a sniffer dog and then obtain a warrant.

It might time to send WWTFFD* (What Would The Founding Fathers Do?) bracelets to police departments in Michigan. Of course, the number of police officers concerned with whether the work they do would meet with The Founding Fathers' approval is not known.

But we can make a guess.

They would all fit in a phone booth.

The law is whatever a judge today rules it is -- and two Michigan justices ruled that "police, acting on a tip, can go to someone's home with drug-detection dogs, sniff the front door and use that information to get a warrant to search inside the house."

No, not those kind of judges

Just another example that everyday -- somewhere in the USA -- there are judges (as well as unelected officials, bureaucrats and political hacks) taking away rights and freedoms that American patriots died for 232 years ago.

More on the ruling:

The 2-1 ruling released Wednesday is a setback for Jeffrey Jones of Detroit.

A Wayne County judge had suppressed evidence and dismissed marijuana possession charges against Jones because he argued the sniffing was an illegal search. Prosecutors appealed.

Two judges on the appeals court say police, acting on a tip, can go to someone's home with drug-detection dogs, sniff the front door and use that information to get a warrant to search inside the house.

A dissenting judge says the ruling erodes the protections of privacy and the sanctity of the home guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

In a comment to the original story, roballmighty poses a few questions that others may be asking in the future.

I heard on NPR that one of the reasons the judges said it was legal is because your front porch is public property If the dog is sniffing something in my house then isn't that a search OF my house? Can't use thermal sensors to find grow lights in a house, but a dog is ok?

"You don't mind if we sniff around your car, do you?"
"You don't have to answer that. We're going to do it anyway."

The creeping power of the drug police state is what's behind the ever more frequent sight of the cars of innocent citizens lined up at a police checkpoint. These people and their cars are inspected -- many times with drug dog -- and if they meet with the approval of the checkpoints officers, are free to continue on their way. Does anyone else notice what's wrong with this picture?

The standard line you're likely to hear every time a court rules that the police can stop a person and search drugs, drunks or whatever is: "Well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have no reason to worry."

The only trouble with that argument -- as the Michigan case, and countless others before it, have demonstrated -- is that the list of "anything wrong" never stops growing. That argument was likely popular with law-abiding Germans in 1933. But it never stops there, it's only the beginning. Someone always wants to add to the roster of proscribed activities.

As long as that "someone" is Joe at the office or Mary from the bar down the street, then it's not a problem: it's a discussion. But when that someone holds power over the lives and property of others -- as police and judges do -- then, the discussion might end up turning into a police checkpoint.

Or a showing up to sniff your house, if you live in Michigan.

If you live in Washington state, you may live next to someone who's down on their luck. In which case, the state of Washington provides a strong incentive to perhaps do a little "creative financing".

In the State of Washington, for example, where the large majority of the marijuana, Washington's number one cash crop, is grown indoors, a well-publicized $5000 reward awaits informants who will turn in marijuana farms. Remarkably, no advertised reward encourages those who turn in murderers, rapists, robbers, child molesters or criminals who prey on the vulnerable. Even dealers of the harder drugs have no advertised bounty on their heads.

So: if you live in Seattle, need both some bucks and some scruples, might it not be to your advantage to "plant" a real plant in your neighbors shrubbery?

What would The Founding Fathers have thought about:

* Rewards for informing on your neighbors?
* Random stops of law-abiding citizens to "check up" on them?
* Bring dogs onto your property to sniff around?

The American Revolution was fought over less. Whether you agree with the drug war or not, it should give Americans who put a priority on freedom pause. It continues the march of intrusive state power.

The Michigan decision is just one more step away from what The Founding Fathers would have done. They fought a revolution to keep the British from coming onto their property and conducting fishing expeditions without a warrant.

Anyone who argues otherwise is likely a cop.

Or one of two judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Posted by Mondoreb

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