Los Angeles v. Patel — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Our firm filed yet another amicus curiae brief in our continuing effort to revitalize and extend the property basis of the Fourth Amendment. Here the case involved applying the Fourth Amendment to protect certain commercial records of hotels — guest registers.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, U.S. Justice Foundation, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Policy Analysis Center. Read More

SCOTUSBlog discusses our Brief in Rodriguez v. United States

Michael Harless Press Coverage

SCOTUSblog published a preview of the oral argument in Rodriguez v. United States, and discussed our amicus brief:
“One amicus brief was filed in support of each side. While the parties avoid the question whether a dog sniff is a “search,” the U.S. Justice Foundation argues in support of Rodriguez that the Jardines and Jones decisions should call Caballes into question on this point, and that a dog sniff of one’s car should not be allowed without independent Fourth Amendment justification. Pitching a portion of its argument, apparently, at common-law enthusiasts such as Justice Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas, this amicus brief cites political philosopher John Locke from 1690 (about property rights, not cars, of course).” Read More

Rodriguez v. United States — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, urging that the Fourth Amendment be applied to all searches and seizures of automobiles. We asked the Court to leave no latitude for judges to compromise away the constitutionally-protected civil liberties of Americans to serve the “needs” of law enforcement.

In Rodriguez, a police officer in Nebraska stopped a Mercury Mountaineer occupied by two men that allegedly swerved onto the shoulder and then back onto the road. He wrote them a warning, and returned their licenses and other paperwork, ending the traffic stop. He then asked if they minded if he ran his drug dog around the car. The driver objected, but instead of letting them go, the officer detained them again, ordering them not to move until backup arrived. The drug dog “alerted” on the vehicle and the police found drugs. Read More

Heien v. North Carolina — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a North Carolina man who challenged the constitutionality of his traffic stop. A police officer pulled Heien over because his car’s right rear brake light was not functioning properly. However, North Carolina law requires only one working rear “lamp.”

The Supreme Court of North Carolina had ruled that the Fourth Amendment requires only that the police act “reasonably,” based on a judicial evaluation of the “totality of the circumstances.” Applying a type of freestanding balancing test derived from past Supreme Court cases, the court decided that it believed the police officer’s alleged mistake of law was a reasonable one. Thus, the old maxim has been revised to “ignorance of the law is no excuse — unless you are the one enforcing the law.” Read More

Herb Titus speaks on Search and Seizure Law

Michael Harless Appearances

Herb Titus was a featured speaker on May 2, 2014 at the 8th Annual Conference on Eminent Domain held at Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia on May 1 and 2. Consistent with the theme of this year’s conference – Charting New Territory — Herb’s topic was “Can a 4th Amendment Search and Seizure Become a 5th Amendment Taking?”

Drawing on the work of the firm ­ featuring its amicus brief in United States v.Jones decided by the Supreme Court in 2012 ­ Titus called attention to the recent resurgence of the original property principles undergirding the 4th Amendment. Since Jones, the Supreme Court has given notice that Fourth Amendment claims are no longer to be balanced away by judges under the relativistic test of a reasonable expectation of privacy. Rather, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures will be governed by fixed principles of property, the government being required to demonstrate a superior interest in the property at stake. Reviewing two recent cases in which innocent persons were being deprived of exclusive possession of their property, Titus charted a path whereby property owners would receive more complete protection of their property rights only by invocation of both a property-based 4th Amendment and the private property takings clause of the 5th Amendment. Read More

American Thinker publishes article — The Wurie Case: Restoring the Property Basis of the Fourth Amendment

Michael Harless Publications

This morning, the American Thinker published an article by Robert Olson, Herb Titus, and Bill Olson about the property rights basis of the Fourth Amendment and how it bears on the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of warrantless searches of cell phones. We previously filed an amicus brief in the case addressing this issue — United States v. Wurie.

Link to article

U.S. v. Wurie — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On April 9, 2014, we filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of United States v. Wurie. The issue before the court is whether arresting officers can search the cell phone of a person arrested without a warrant. However, the underlying issue in Wurie and its companion case, Riley v. California, is whether the Court will continue to apply its evolving reasonable expectation of privacy test birthed in Katz v. United States to searches incident to arrest, or instead continue with its restoration of property principles begun inUnited States v. Jones and Florida v. Jardines. Read More

Gun Owners of America & Gun Owners Foundation Comments to ATF on “Adjudicated as a Mental Defective”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

President Obama announced that his Administration would do all in its power to stop gun violence. By that he seems to have meant reducing private ownership of firearms. Now, it turns out that he is not just doing things within his presidential power to achieve that objective – he is usurping legislative power to amend statutes unilaterally.

On January 7, 2014, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), issued Proposed Rules designed to vastly increase the number of Americans prohibited from owning firearms, including many U.S. Veterans, by changing the meaning of words contained in laws passed by Congress. Read More

Quinn v. Texas Brief Filed Opposing No-Knock Home Raids

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Every day we read about SWAT teams serving arrest warrants or search warrants at people’s homes, using no-knock raids in the middle of the night. Many of these police home invasions go wrong, with innocent people being shot, and sometimes killed, just because they were trying to defend themselves.  Even criminals have learned to claim that they are the police while breaking into homes, to discourage resistance. Read More

Howard Wesley Cotterman v. US — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Howard Wesley Cotterman v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner.

In this case, the Ninth Circuit determined that the federal government may seize, copy, and forensically analyze the hard drive of a laptop of a U.S. citizen returning to the country, without a warrant, based merely on “reasonable suspicion.” Our amicus brief argues that the circuit court reached this decision by employing an atextual analytical approach, and the sanctioned search violates the Fourth Amendment ban on general searches. Further, the Supreme Court needs to provide guidance to lower courts on how the property basis of the Fourth Amendment should be applied to digital searches, using an analysis not based exclusively on ephemeral “expectations of privacy.” Under the circuit court’s approach, no one would be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. Read More

U.S. v. Jones: Reviving the Property Foundation of the Fourth Amendment

Michael Harless Publications

Case Western Reserve University School of Law Journal of Law, Technology & the Internet

Herb Titus and Bill Olson co-authored a law review article which explains the importance of the victory won in the Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Antoine Jones. This law review article is based on an amicus brief our firm filed in that case, urging the court to return to its traditional property basis of the search and seizure language of the Fourth Amendment, and the Court’s decision in that case. Read More

Bill Olson & Herb Titus Article Explains Fourth Amendment Significance of Clapper v. Amnesty International

Michael Harless Publications

Today both the U.S. Justice Foundation and the Western Center for Journalism published an article by Bill Olson & Herb Titus on the implications of Clapper v. Amnesty International which was argued this morning in the U.S. Supreme Court. On September 24, 2012, our firm filed an amicus brief in the case, which involves the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

Our firm has been focused for some time on the critical need to return to the historic meaning of the Fourth Amendment as a means to re-establish the authority of the people over their government. This article explains how the Clapper case could build on the property principles argued in anotheramicus brief we filed, which were articulated on January 23, 2012 by the Supreme Court in its decision in U.S. v. Antoine Jones. Read More

James R. Clapper, Jr., Director of National Intelligence, et al. v. Amnesty International USA, et al. Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of James R. Clapper, Jr., Director of National Intelligence, et al. v. Amnesty International USA, et al.in the United States Supreme Court in support of respondents.

Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of:
Gun Owners Foundation (http://www.gunowners.com/)
Gun Owners of America, Inc. (www.gunowners.org
U.S. Justice Foundation (https://usjf.net/)
Downsize DC Foundation (http://www.downsizedcfoundation.org/)
DownsizeDC.org (http://www.downsizedc.org/)
Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund (http://www.cldef.org/) Read More

“United States v. Jones Is Rebuilding The Property Foundation Of The Fourth Amendment” by Bill Olson and Herb Titus

Michael Harless Publications

Bill Olson and Herb Titus wrote the article “United States v. Jones Is Rebuilding The Property Foundation Of The Fourth Amendment” published by the Western Center for Journalism today. The article discusses today’s Supreme Court decision in the case of United States v. Antoine Jones, which re-examined the foundations of the Fourth Amendment, and did much to reverse several decades of erosion of the people’s protection against unlawful searches and seizures. Our firm filed two Supreme Court amicus briefs in this case, an amicus brief on the petition for writ of certiorari and an amicus brief on the merits. Read More

United States v. Antoine Jones Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of United States v.Antoine Jones in the United States Supreme Court in support of respondent, Antoine Jones. Our amicus brief argues that the government’s extreme position that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to GPS surveillance on public roadways is insupportable.

The government’s extreme view that the Fourth Amendment is completely irrelevant is made possible only by the Supreme Court’s mistaken jurisprudence that the Fourth Amendment only applies to situations wherein persons have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The “expectation of privacy” test for searches and seizures arose without support in the text or historical context of the Fourth Amendment, and has proven wholly inadequate to protect the American people from their government. Had the Supreme Court previously adhered to the original text of the Fourth Amendment, rather than substituting their own language, the right of the people to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” would have preserved their privacy by a permanent wall of the unalienable right of private property. Read More

United States v. Antoine Jones Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of United States v.Antoine Jones in the United States Supreme Court. Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Restoring Liberty Action Committee, U.S. Justice Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Free Speech Coalition, Inc., Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Inc., DownsizeDC.org, Downsize DC Foundation, and The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education. Read More