A Week in Review - March 18th, 2016

Idaho is poised to join WV and eight other states in recognizing “Constitutional carry,” or carrying a concealed firearm without requiring a government-issued permit.  People ages 18 through 20 would still require a permit and training for concealed carry within city limits, but gun owners 21 and over would have no such requirements.  Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) was quoted as saying, "We have no right to infringe on people's right to keep and bear arms.”

The Department of Justice, responding to Apple’s refusal to comply with orders to create an exploitable hack of their own technology, implied that they might simply seize source code for Apple’s entire operating system. “The FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature,” the response read.  “The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labour by Apple programmers.”

According to an analysis by the Washington Post, 284 homes were raided by Washington, D.C., police using warrants citing “officer training and experience" as justification.  2,000 warrants issued between January 2013 and January 2015 were examined, and 14 percent were “searches on domiciles where no criminal activity was observed and that ‘The language of the warrants gave officers broad leeway to search for drugs and guns in areas saturated by them and to seize phones, computers and personal records.’”  Per former NYPD officer Eugene O'Donnell, “[T]hese types of warrants are counter to what the Fourth Amendment is all about... It’s a mass-produced, search-and-recovery operation. It’s an assembly line. It’s not a progressive policy, and it imperils police and people alike.”

The justification used by the FAA to regulate small consumer drones appears to be bogus, according to a study just published by George Mason University's Mercatus Center.  “The regulations are largely prompted by fears that the toy-sized flyers will pose a danger to commercial and civil aircraft—fears that new research suggests are unfounded. That research… was based on damage to aircraft from another sort of small, uncrewed aircraft—flying birds.”

The independent police monitor for Denver, CO, reports that the National Crime Information Center has been repeatedly misused by police who often face little more than a reprimand.  Denver cases include an officer who looked up the phone number of a hospital employee with whom he chatted during a sex assault investigation and called at home against her wishes; an officer ran a man's license plate for a friend, who then began driving by the man's house and threatening him; and an officer who ran a man's license plate for a tow truck driver who wanted information for personal reasons. NYPD cases include a detective who used the NCIC database to look up personal information about fellow officers without their knowledge, and an officer who used the database to compile dossiers– including detailed personal information - on women he intended to “kidnap and cannibalize."

The Alabama House of Representative will vote on a bill to abolish state-issued marriage licenses.  The bill – passed by the Senate, 23-3 – would require couples to simply record their marriage on a state-issued form rather than have county probate offices issue licenses.  Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, said the change would end controversy about marriage licenses while ensuring that people can marry whomever they choose.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has written to American University and Georgetown University Law Center after both universities prevented students from campaigning on campus.  “University administrators continue to misinterpret the requirements of their institution’s tax-exempt status to silence political speech,” said  FIRE VP of Legal and Public Advocacy, Will Creeley. “So FIRE’s policy statement aims to correct the record once again: political speech is free speech, and students and faculty must be allowed to express themselves politically on campus…. While universities and colleges that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are prohibited from participating in political campaigns as institutions, these prohibitions apply to the institution itself and those reasonably perceived to be speaking on its behalf, not to individual students, student groups, faculty, or staff engaged in their own expression.”

Bloomberg View published an editorial (along with the requisite disclaimer that the views expressed might not be shared by the board) about the dangers of a cashless society.  It was succinctly summarized with this passage:  “What’s not to like? Very little. Except, and I’m afraid it’s a rather large exception, the amount of power that this gives the government over its citizens.”

Iowa’s governor is expected to sign into law a bill legalizing private ownership of firearm suppressors.  The bill had been passed by the state legislature by an overwhelming margin – the House, 74-24; the Senate, 46-4.  Once signed, the law will take effect immediately.

Toms River, NJ, is considering a bill to criminalize texting while walking.  According to the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, “If a person on the road — whether walking or driving — presents a risk to others on the road, there should be a law in place to dissuade and penalize risky behavior.” If passed, pedestrians caught texting while walking will face a $50 fine, a 15-day imprisonment, or both.  For texting.  While walking.  Seriously.  Is there any limit to the micromanagement of our lives that American citizens will tolerate?  Will “he looked like he was carrying a phone” now fall under "specific and articulable facts" justifying Terry stops?  What happens the first time someone resists arrest for texting?