Another pillar of liberty quietly stolen away

Liberty seldom dies in one fell swoop. Government conquers its citizens with gradualism because few understand it. Gradualism is an imperceptible force.

Almost any crime can be carried out without overt force or resistance if it is done gradually. Somehow any process of gradualism escapes detection. Gradualism extends false hope and the illusion of reality.

Gradualism also allows crimes to be carried out in plain sight. It acts as a process of slow erosion over time. Then one day, Americans awaken and find themselves in chains.

Last week President Donald Trump signed into law Joint Resolution 76. As is common practice, the law’s title – “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” — does nothing to reveal what it does, or what nefarious language it includes.

On the surface the resolution seems benign and perhaps even necessary. After all, it creates a wing of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority responsible for adopting a written State Safety Oversight Program and with the authority to “Review, approve, oversee, and enforce the adoption and implementation of WMATA’s Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan.”

But the resolution has a very insidious passage buried within the list of “Safety Oversight Powers” granted the commission:

In carrying out its purposes, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, shall, consistent with federal law: 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…

In case you got lost in the governmentspeak, Commission agents now possesses the authority to enter into any property near the Metro Rail System “without limitation,” and without a warrant in order to make inspections, investigations, examinations and for testing.

This is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, which states:

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.

So the 4th Amendment no longer applies to properties “near” the Metro Rail System. And if it no longer applies there, it no longer applies anywhere.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly. Only five members of Congress, Republicans all – Justin Amash, Walter Jones, Thomas Massie, Alex Mooney and Mark Sanford – voted against it. It passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

Amash noted the congressional hypocrisy when he pointed out on Twitter that even though the resolution is a clear violation of the Constitution, 501 of the 535 members of the House and Senate voted for it. Twenty-nine members of the House didn’t even bother to vote.

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