This is how a police state gets started
Warrants and subpeonas are supposed to be issued by judges. Or at least that's how things are supposed to work. Increasingly, though, state and federal law enforcement officials are issuing what are called "administrative warrants" -- no judge required. Not all judges are happy about that:
In March a federal judge enjoined the chief law enforcement official of Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood, for a more common form of lawless use of these warrants. Hood issued his own administrative subpoena to google">Google alleging that it published “obnoxious, tasteless and criminal content,” according to the injunction order.
Google sued under various federal statutes plus the First and Fourth Amendments alleging that Hood had pressured Google and threatened to prosecute or sue, plus made the relatively commensurate threat to “investigate Google.” The threat to investigate was on par at some level with suing or prosecuting to punish Google’s behavior, whether charges were justifiable under the law or not.
But what is the real threat from these judge-less warrants and subpeonas? It means bureaucrats can run amok, conducting investigations without ever having to prove to a judge they have probable cause:
When it comes to administrative subpoenas, think of numerous government officials with the arrogance and scruples of disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner wielding the power, and you get the picture. The Fourth Amendment, however, is designed to ensure, up front, that searches and seizures are subject to certain basic requirements to limit government from abusing and bullying us.
And it gets worse:
Administrative subpoenas issued unilaterally by bureaucratic law enforcement officials and agencies for documents and data are the constitutional equivalent of police officers writing their own warrants to enter your home. That should be unconstitutional on its face, but also fosters discriminatory trespasses, bullying under color of law, and other arbitrary transgressions of the rule of law. This is the prototype of a police state.
It's sad to think that the Fourth Amendment needs defenders today. But it's becoming more clear that Mr. Madison's Amendment is in real danger of becoming little more than words on a page.