The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – 4th Amendment to the US Constitution
Nothing could be clearer. This recognizes a restriction on the central government, but recognizes a right of the people, and thus logically a restriction on all government that they cannot search a person’s possessions or property without the following:
- Probable cause,
- An oath or affirmation
- A description of the place to be searched
- A description of the person or things to be seized
All these are necessary in order to obtain a warrant and then engage in a lawful search.
However, over and over again, we see Congress writing laws to undermine clear instructions.
We see it with the First Amendment.
We see it with the Second Amendment.
Some say we can see it with the Third Amendment and on down the line it goes.
This Resolution, HJ 76, was put forth by Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 22, 2017.
The resolution says that it is “Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.”
“Whereas the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, an interstate compact agency of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Maryland, provides transportation services to millions of people each year, the safety of whom is paramount; Whereas an effective and safe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority system is essential to the commerce and prosperity of the National Capital region; Whereas the Tri-State Oversight Committee, created by a memorandum of understanding amongst these 3 jurisdictions, has provided safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.”
Of course, like all criminal actions of Congress and the executive branch, they shroud what they are doing under the guise of “safety.”
After all, they are just growing government by having a safety commission be an appendage to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in order to do such things as “Adopt, revise, and distribute a written State Safety Oversight Program” and to “Review, approve, oversee, and enforce the adoption and implementation of WMATA’s Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan.”
Here’s the problem area of the bill.
“In performing its duties, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, may:
“(a) Conduct, or cause to be conducted, inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing of WMATA personnel and contractors, property, equipment, facilities, rolling stock, and operations of the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, electronic information and databases through reasonable means, which may include issuance of subpoenas;
“(b) Enter upon the WMATA Rail System and, upon reasonable notice and a finding by the chief executive officer that a need exists, upon any lands, waters, and premises adjacent to the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, property owned or occupied by the federal government, for the purpose of making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing as the Commission may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this MSC Compact, and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass. The Commission shall make reasonable reimbursement for any actual damage resulting to any such adjacent lands, waters, and premises as a result of such activities;
Note what it says. These inspections, investigations and examinations can be done “without limitation” and no mention is made of a warrant.
Simply if the chief executive officer deems it so, and the implication is not just property owned or occupied as implied in the wording “including.”
This is definitely open ended to include private property and individuals on that property.
Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) who pointed out that only five congressmen voted against it.
“Only 5 of us voted against bill allowing govt to enter/search private property in parts of VA, MD & DC w/o warrant..” he tweeted out.
Only 5 of us voted against bill allowing govt to enter/search private property in parts of VA, MD & DC w/o warrant. https://t.co/SVhTWqbPaB
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 18, 2017
Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) all voted against the resolution because it did not adhere to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
I’d be willing to be that the majority of those who voted for it didn’t take the time to read the first page of the resolution.
Once legislation is passed like this, it builds on precedent to push it further and further along. Shame on every single representative who voted on this and shame on President Trump for signing it.