ADC Joins Amicus Brief in Fight to Protect Civil Liberties
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) along with seven other civil rights organizations, joined an amicus brief that addresses the question of whether police need a warrant in order to conduct surveillance of personal vehicles by secretly attaching global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitters onto the vehicles. The case, which is scheduled to be heard March 2009 in New York’s highest court, has profound implications for the privacy rights of individuals and organizations.
In People v. Weaver, scheduled for argument in the New York Court of Appeals March 24, the court will be considering whether a police officer, in his own discretion, may undertake GPS surveillance of individuals without any judicial oversight at all. The court below held that there is no obligation to obtain a warrant prior to undertaking such monitoring. Members of the public have no way of knowing if their movements are subject to electronic surveillance from which there is no legal protections.
Joining ADC in signing on to the amicus brief is a coalition of civil rights groups that include The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the New York State Defenders Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Union for Reform Judaism.
ADC Executive Director Kareem Shora stated, “The lower court clearly erred in allowing for the installation and continuous remote tracking and recording without judicial oversight or constitutional protection. Americans have the right to be let alone from government intrusion, and allowing such monitoring, with no judicial oversight, is clearly an infringement on our First and Fourth Amendment rights.”
According to Norman Reimer, the Executive Director of NACDL, “Permitting unlimited, around-the-clock, uninterrupted 24/7 monitoring of an individual’s whereabouts is as much a First Amendment issue as it is a Fourth Amendment issue.” He points out that “the government can learn where a person worships, what clubs they attend, what political parties they participate in, where they sleep, and other personal and private information completely irrelevant to legitimate law enforcement needs.”