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Oh yeah, that’s why we have a Constitution!

Harry Lewis puts just right the way Homeland Security goes off the rails with its decision to give itself permission to confiscate laptops at the border:

I love Michael Chertoff’s explanation of why border guards won’t bother with the niceties of probable cause provided for in the Fourth Amendment: “As a practical matter, travelers only go to secondary [for a more thorough examination] when there is some level of suspicion. Yet legislation locking in a particular standard for searches would have a dangerous, chilling effect as officers’ often split-second assessments are second-guessed.”

He’s right, of course. The Bill of Rights has a chilling effect on the government. That’s what it’s there for!

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