Michigan has finally stepped into the fold of the budding nullification movement. A resolution has been introduced that would allow voters to add protections for electronic data and communications into the state constitution. This could have ramifications that goes up the line to the federal level. A similar measure passed in Missouri last year, and was approved by a whopping 75 percent of voters. We must duplicate that success here.
The proposed amendment (HJRN) has already received nearly 30 bipartisan co-sponsors and would alter the Michigan Bill of Rights to read as follows:
The person, houses, papers,
andpossessions, and electronic data and communications of every person shall be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. No warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things or to access electronic data or communciations shall issue without describing them, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to bar from evidence in any criminal proceeding any narcotic drug, firearm, bomb, explosive or any other dangerous weapon, seized by a peace officer outside the curtilage of any dwelling house in this state.
While a state constitutional amendment only binds state agencies and not the federal government, the amendment will protect Michigan residents from a practical effect of federal spying.
By prohibiting state agents from “accessing” warrantless electronic data, it makes such data gathered by federal agencies such as the NSA and shared with state and local law enforcement inadmissible in state criminal proceedings. This protection will remain in place for Michiganders even if federal courts ultimately put the seal of approval on warrantless data collection by the NSA and other federal agencies.
That the NSA and other federal agencies pass illegally gathered information to state and local law enforcement isn’t mere speculation. We know for a fact it happens.
As revealed in a Reuters report in the summer of 2013, the a formerly secret DEA unit known as the Special Operations Division (SOD) passes information collected without warrant by the NSA and other agencies to state and local law enforcement. In most cases, this information has nothing to do with terrorism, but related to everyday criminal cases. Federal agencies also almost certainly give warrantless information to state and local governments via Fusion Centers. These facilitate the exchange of information between state, local and federal agencies and make up part of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE), a consortium that includes the NSA, FBI, Department of Defense and many others. Fusion Centers “contribute to the ISE through their role in receiving threat information from the federal government.” In other words, they serve as one of the primary means of passing warrantless information along from federal to state and local agencies.
Our can’t stop the federal government from violating the Constitution and basic privacy rights, but the Runestad privacy amendment does provide a mechanism to keep illegally gathered data out of state courts.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The bill will be heard at the following date and time:
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: House Criminal Justice Committee, Room 327, House Office Building, Lansing, MI
Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) was elected last November, and he is actually living up to his oath. We should show up, dress well, and support his effort. There will be opposition, but it won’t hold up if we are vigilant. Spread the word, and show up to the committee hearing on Tuesday. Your privacy rights may depend upon it.
If you cannot attend the committee hearing, don’t worry. You can still make some calls from home. Call up all these legislators, and politely urge them to push forward HJRN through the House Criminal Justice Committee and give it a full vote in the state House:
Kurt Heise (R) Committee Chairman – 517-373-3816
Michael Webber (R) Majority Vice Chair – 517-373-1773
Vanessa Guerra (D) Minority Vice Chair – (517) 373-0152
Martin Howrylak (R) – 517-373-1783
Todd Courser (R) – 517-373-1800
Peter Lucido (R) – 517-373-0843
Marcia Hovey-Wright (D) – (517) 373-2646
Stephanie Chang (D) – (517) 373-0823
I will be delivering testimony to the House Criminal Justice Committee on behalf of the Michigan Tenth Amendment Center on Tuesday. I hope to see you there fighting alongside me for our sacred freedom.
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