Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Rein in Aggressive, Coercive, Potentially Violent Knock-and-Talk Practices by Militarized Police

by Rutherford Institute


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Warning of the danger to the public from the increasing use of “knock and talk” tactics by police, The Rutherford Institute has asked the United States Supreme Court to rein in aggressive “knock and talk” practices, which have become thinly veiled, warrantless attempts by which citizens are coerced and intimidated into “talking” with heavily armed police who “knock” on their doors in the middle of the night.

In asking the Court to review the case of Young v. Borders, Rutherford Institute attorneys denounced a lower court ruling that failed to hold police accountable for banging on the wrong door at 1:30 am, failing to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shooting and killing the innocent homeowner who answered the door while holding a gun in self-defense. Although 26-year-old Andrew Scott had committed no crime and never fired a single bullet or lifted his firearm against police, he was gunned down by police who were investigating a speeding incident by engaging in a middle-of-the-night “knock and talk” in Scott’s apartment complex.

n an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court, Institute attorneys argue that the police violated the Fourth Amendment in conducting the “knock and talk” because the late-night raid at Scott’s home was an abuse of society’s norms and a trespass on Scott’s property. The Institute has also issued constitutional guidelines to educate the public about what they can do to preserve their constitutional rights against the coercive use of “knock and talks” by police as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless, unreasonable searches.

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus curiae brief in Young v. Borders is available at www.rutherford.org.

“Government officials insist that there is nothing unlawful, unreasonable or threatening about the prospect of armed police dressed in SWAT gear knocking on doors in the middle of night and ‘asking’ homeowners to engage in warrantless ‘knock-and-talk’ sessions,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “However, as Andrew Scott learned, there’s always a price to pay for saying no to such heavy-handed requests by police. If the courts continue to sanction such aggressive, excessive, coercive tactics, it will give police further incentive to terrorize and kill American citizens without fear of repercussion.”

On July 15, 2012, Deputy Richard Sylvester pursued a speeding motorcyclist, which he later had cause to believe might be armed and had been spotted at a nearby apartment complex. Around 1:30 a.m., Sylvester and three other deputies began knocking on doors in the apartment complex in the vicinity of the parked motorcycle, starting with Apt. 114, which was occupied by Andrew Scott and Amy Young, who were playing video games and had no connection to the motorcycle or any illegal activity. The deputies assumed tactical positions, guns drawn and ready to shoot. Sylvester, without announcing he was a police officer, then banged loudly and repeatedly on the door. Unnerved by the banging at such a late hour, Andrew Scott retrieved his handgun before opening the door. When Scott saw a shadowy figure holding a gun outside his door, he retreated into his apartment only to have Sylvester immediately open fire. Sylvester fired six shots, three of which hit and killed Scott. A trial court subsequently ruled in favor of the police, ruling that Scott was to blame for choosing to retrieve a handgun before opening the door. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Sylvester was protected by “qualified immunity,” reasoning that the use of excessive force did not violate “clearly established law.”



Appeals Court: Police can violate our rights without fear of being sued

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


For those of you that claim we don’t live in a police state, I give you this recent Michigan Appeals Court ruling.

In 2015, Deputy James Dawson went to Joshua Brennan’s home and knocked on his door trying to obtain a breath sample. When Brennan did not answer, Dawson spent an hour and a half knocking at his doors and windows.

Officer Dawson also put crime-scene tape over Brennan’s security cameras to conceal his actions and used his siren and cruiser lights in an attempt to rouse him.

When Brennan finally opened his door, officer Dawson forced him to take a breathalyzer and arrested him for a probation violation even though he blew a 0.000.

All of this was done without a warrant. (Warrantless breathalyzer tests was not a condition of Brennan’s probation.)

If you think, it is obvious to any reasonable person that his rights were violated. Then you don’t know how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals interprets the Constitution.  The fact that this even went to an Appeals Court, speaks volumes about our justice system but I digress.

Let’s get back to the ruling;  judge John Nalabandian said that officer Dawson did violate Brennan’s Fourth Amendment rights by searching him without a warrant. All is good so far, right?

Not quite, Nalabandian went on to say “police actions that violate the Constitution do not lead to liability.”

The court also ruled that since officer “Dawson’s implied license was not clearly established” and because of that old police standby, “deficient training” he cannot be sued.

To say that the court’s reasoning is frustrating is an understatement. The court said that because “Wilson and Clare County were not on actual or constructive notice that the deputy training was deficient they could not be liable.”

Does anyone really think police are held to a higher standard when they constantly use the “deficient training” excuse?

If you are upset by the court’s ruling that police are not liable for violating the Constitution I warn you, it only gets worse.

Citizens must prove to judges that violating out rights is unlawful

According to the Sixth Circuit and this speaks volumes about our justice system “the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the right was so well settled that every reasonable official would understand that what he is doing is unlawful.”

In other words, citizens must prove to a “reasonable official” [judge] that a police officer violating the Constitution is unlawful.

The Sixth Circuit claimed that since the Hardesty v. Hamburg Twp. ruling did not set a limit on how long a police officer can harass people at their homes Brennan cannot sue the police.  Even though they admitted that “absent a warrant a police officer has no greater license to remain on the property than a Girl Scout or trick-or-treater.”

The ruling repeatedly admits that “Dawson arguably violated the Constitution.” but states for a second time that “even if a government official violated a constitutional right, that official is entitled to qualified immunity.”

The Sixth Circuit refused to view the “constitutionality of the officer’s conduct or the continuing viability of Hardest and Turk.”

Not only did the Appeals court rule that Brennan cannot sue the police for violating his rights but they dismissed his unlawful arrest claim as well.

Only one judge, Karen Moore dissented and agreed like any “reasonable official” should, saying Brennan’s rights were violated and the officer could be sued.

Why is the media silent when rulings as egregious as this are taking place across the country?

Proving to “reasonable officials” that violating our rights is unlawful? America is fast on its way to becoming a police state.

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Trump Orders Declassification of FISA Docs and Comey Texts

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the inaugural meeting of the Presidents National Council for the American Worker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on September 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)



President Donald Trump ordered the declassification of several documents and texts related to the FBI’s Russia investigation during the 2016 presidential election.

Included among the documents are the 21 pages of the FISA court application used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Monday.

Sanders added that the president has also directed the release of all reports by the FBI of interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr in relation to the Russia investigation.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
Trump further ordered the public release of all text messages concerning the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, and Ohr.

The House Intelligence and House Oversight and Government Reform committees have both been seeking the unredacted FISA applications on Carter Page for months.

Fox News reported sources familiar with the matter do not know how soon the documents will be released, but the release covered “pretty much everything that (House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes) wanted … and the text messages are a bonus.”

Nunes stated on FNC on Sunday, “If the president wants the American people to really understand just how broad and invasive this investigation has been to many Americans and how unfair it has been, he has no choice but to declassify” key documents.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise praised Trump’s decision to release the FISA documents and text messages, tweeting, the president “made the right call. Americans deserve the truth about these egregious actions by government officials.”

Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows tweeted after Trump’s announcement, “Transparency wins.”

“It’s time to get the full truth on the table so the American people can decide for themselves on what happened at the highest levels of their FBI and Justice Department,” he added.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., accused Trump of “ordering the selective disclosure of classified materials he believes helpful to his defense.”

“The DOJ and FBI have previously informed me that release of some of this information would cross a ‘red line,’” he wrote.

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted about a Fox News report concerning Lisa Page’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in July during which she stated the FBI had found no evidence of Russia collusion by May 2017, when special counsel Robert Mueller was named to take over the investigation.

“Therefore, the case should never have been allowed to be brought. It is a totally illegal Witch Hunt!” wrote the president.

In another tweet, he wrote, “Immediately after Comey’s firing Peter Strzok texted to his lover, Lisa Page ‘We need to Open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy (McCabe, also fired) is acting.”

“Page answered, ‘We need to lock in (redacted). In a formal chargeable way. Soon.’ Wow, a conspiracy caught?” Trump wondered.









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Randy DeSoto is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."

The Bad Economics of Short-Run Policies


Bad economics can bring about or grow out of bad politics. But the question is, what are bad economics and bad politics?

Bad economics can bring about or grow out of bad politics. But the question is, what are bad economics and bad politics? Unless this is clearly and correctly identified, a bad situation can be made worse, and a good situation can be turned into a bad one. So sorting this out is crucial to having a free and prosperous society.

British economist, Robert Skidelsky, is confident that he knows the answer. In a recent article on “Good Politics, Bad Economics,” he states that bad economics and bad politics are free markets and limited government along classical liberal lines. How does he know that such economics and politics are “bad” in their effects on the society? The financial crisis of 2008-2009, Skidelsky says, was due to unbridled financial markets combined with “hands-off” economic policies once the downturn set in, in 2009-2010.

Good politics and good economics, in his view, comprise an openness and sensitivity to the concerns of many in the society for social securities and job assurances in a changing and uncertain world. Oh, Adam Smith’s invisible hand of unhampered free markets is fine enough when taking the long view, but, Skidelsky says, they are “also highly disruptive and prone to periodic breakdown,” in the shorter run.

Skidelsky: Populist Demagogues as Good Economists

Adhering to such Smithian free market policies opens the door to “populist” demagogues, such as Victor Orban in Hungary who has instituted illiberal political policies attempting to restrict civil liberties and personal freedom. But, on the other hand, as far as Skidelsky is concerned Orban has a highly redeemable set of good fiscal policies, based on a “sound Keynesian footing.”

This echoes back to the infamous forward that John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) wrote for the German translation of his, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), that “The theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions in a totalitarian state than . . . under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire . . .”

It is worth recalling that in 1936, the only remaining academic economists to whom the content of Keynes’s book could be addressed in recommending it as a guide for government economic policy were Nazi economists, since all others already had been removed from university and related positions by Hitler’s National Socialist regime.

Following in the footsteps of his intellectual mentor (being the author of a highly regarded three-volume biography of Keynes), Skidelsky points out that illiberal nationalist regimes such as Orban’s find it far easier “to pursue policies of social protection.” Why? They can use the heavy hand of government control to impose such policies on society without the type of resistance or public criticism possible in a more politically open liberal system.

The Bigger the Government, the Better for Keynesians

The smaller the government’s fiscal presence in the economic activities within a country, the less is likely to be the impact from “activist” government spending policies, since government expenditures and taxation would be relatively small to start with. If there is, say, a $1 trillion economy, with government taxing and spending only representing one percent (or $10 billion), a 20 percent increase in government spending in the form of a budget deficit only comes to an additional $2 billion.

But if, on the other hand, out of a $1 trillion economy, government taxing and spending comes to, say, 20 percent that is equal to $200 billion. If, now, the government increases it’s spending by only 5 percent through deficit financing that comes to $10 billion, or five times as much as in the first case.

Keynes’s point, and Skidelsky’s, is that the greater the degree of government influence or control over the economic activities within a country to begin with, including the size of government spending as a percent of the economy as a whole, the larger the impact from any increase in spending by that government. The bigger the government, the more policy-relevant is the introduction or expansion of Keynesian-type fiscal policies.

In fairness, Keynes had no sympathy for the ideology or the politics of the Nazi regime in Germany, and Robert Skidelsky is equally unsympathetic with the political and cultural policies of Orban’s government in Hungary. But Skidelsky believes that the best way to prevent or make less likely the coming to power of a populist, “right-wing” government like Orban’s is for a more liberal and democratic government to introduce “good” Keynesian and other interventionist policies before economic circumstances become so bad in a country that the citizens turn to an Orban-type of leader, due to the affects of “bad” free market policies that limit the size and scope of a government to “fix” and set things right.

Bastiat and Hazlitt: Good Economists Look Beyond the Short Run

Slightly modernizing the insight of the French free market economist, Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) in his famous essay, “What is Seen and What is Not Seen,” economic journalist Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993) explained the crucial difference between a “bad” and  “good” economist in his classic, Economics in One Lesson (1946):

“The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group, the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups . . .

“The long-run consequences of some economic policies may become evident in a few months. Others may not become evident for several years. Still others may not become evident for decades. But in every case those long-run consequences are contained in the policy as surely as the hen was in the egg., the flower in the seed . . . The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences not merely for one group but for all groups.”

Now no personal or moral slight is intended by implying that Robert Skidelsky, by Bastiat’s and Hazlitt’s definition, is a “bad” economist. It simply means that it is “bad economics” if the analyst, for whatever reason, exclusively or primarily focuses on the immediate or nearer effects from a government policy while ignoring or downplaying the possible or likely impact of such policies when taking the longer-run perspective on what the consequences of a policy may be.

The reason being, as the old adage says, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It is clear from Skidelsky’s argument that he is concerned that if a “good” or well-intentioned government pursues “bad” economic policies, it may create the political conditions in which an authoritarian or populist demagogue may be able to promise “good” interventionist economics, some of which he might even successfully deliver, but at the cost of reduced or lost political and civil liberties.

However, a “good” diagnosis requires a correct judgment concerning the cause and nature of the (social) ailment. Otherwise, the illness may be made worse, or at a minimum recovery may be delayed or prolonged more than otherwise might have been necessary.

Short-Run Policies Created the 2008-2009 Crisis

What Skidelsky interprets as the economic system prevailing in the United States and most other Western countries has little to do with how classical liberals define a “free market.” Financial markets have been and are heavily regulated by government regulatory agencies. The creation of money and credit and the rates of interest they charge to borrowers are not truly market-based. Central banks set the regulatory and loan-creating rules for the member banks within the banking systems.

Governments and their central banks created the financial crisis of 2008-2009. For years the Federal Reserve had been increasing the quantity of loanable funds in the banking system, and when adjusted for price inflation as measured by the consumer price index, some real interest rates were negative. (See my article, “Interest Rates Need to Tell the Truth”.)

In other words, loan money was being handed out for free in terms of real buying power that a borrower was paying back to lenders for the period of their loans. To get the central bank-created money in the banking system out the door, besides the equivalent of negative interest charges on some loans, the banks were induced to extend loans to uncredit-worthy home buyers with the promise that government agencies like Fanny Mae Freddie Mac would pick up the tab if and when the loans went bad – which many eventually did.

Bad Economics and Short-Run Politics Cause Society’s Ills

What had motivated these policies? In the case of the Federal Reserve, a fear in the early years of the 21st century that there might be a tendency for price deflation, which the Fed Board of Governors decided had to be prevented at all costs through counter-acting monetary expansion. The longer run consequence was an unsustainable financial and investment bubble that came crashing down in 2008-2009. (See my article, “Don’t Fear ‘Deflation,’ Unless Caused by Government”.)

In the case of the housing market, pressures by members of Congress were placed on the government’s home loan guaranteed agencies – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – that not enough people were attaining the American dream of having their own home, especially among members of minority communities in the United States. So credit standards were lowered or seemingly almost waved. Banks were told not to worry; just extend home loans to those not meeting the traditional credit-worthy standards of income and work history or not enough of a usual down payment, because if things went wrong those government agencies guaranteed to cover any that went “bad.”

Misplaced fears about possible price deflation and the pressures of politicians looking no further than needing votes from happy home-owning constituents; these were the short-run policy contexts that created the longer run disaster of one of the severest economic downturns of the post-World War II period.

Macroeconomic Mindset Prevents Understanding of Markets

Both factors reflected the bad economics of focusing on the short-run. The Keynesian mindset is to have the monetary central planners try to micro-manage every twist and turn in the financial and economic climate, and frequently turn the money-creation and interest rate dials in an attempt to keep the macro-economy on an even keel, as the defined by the Keynesian-oriented policy makers.

The same applies to using government taxing and spending to try to influence investment, employment and wages in the economy as a whole. But, again, what this mindset summarizes away in the macroeconomic aggregates used as indicators and targets are the complex and interconnected microeconomic relationships in the structure of relative prices and wages, relative profitabilities of directing productions to satisfy multitudes of different consumer demands, and the need for on-going and continuous adaptations and adjustments in prices and wages, and the allocation of resources (including labor) for successful economy-wide coordination of what everyone is doing in the social system of the division of labor. (See my article, “Macro Aggregates Hide the Real Market Processes at Work”.)

The Best Short and Long Run Policy: Limited Government

For a market economy to succeed in this endeavor the only long run set of policies for any government needs to undertake is to protect the individual and private property rights of the citizenry, enforce all contracts and agreements peacefully and voluntarily entered into that are not fraudulent or misrepresentations, and prevent foreign aggressors from invading and plundering the people within a country.

This represents the “good politics” of a (classical) liberal political order that helps secure people’s liberty and assures the economic setting most conducive to prosperity and price-guided market coordination. A stable and healthy market order such as this precludes the likelihood of the disruptions and distortions that are central to Skildelsky’s concerns.

If such disruptions do arise for some external reason, it remains nonetheless the best long run and short run policy for open and competitive markets to be left free to rebalance and recoordinate in the most appropriate and timesaving ways possible. Government planners, regulators and bureaucrats can never know or acquire the needed and necessary microeconomic knowledge of time and circumstance that only the actors within the various sectors of the economy can discover and attempt to utilize in the most effective manner.

Following this type of economic policy approach is most likely to preclude the emergence and attractiveness of the populist demagogues that Skidelsky fears as threats to political freedom and civil liberties. His proposed policies are far more likely to bring about the very “bad politics” about which he is rightly concerned.

[Originally Published at the American Institute for Economic Research]






Dr. Richard M. Ebeling is the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. Full Bio
rebeling@citadel.edu

Politics Dirty: Avenatti Tied to Major Clinton Donor and Professor Linked to Russia Dossier

By Cillian Zeal


Michael Avenatti is either telling a very salacious tale or is a very connected man, because he seems to appear on cable news about as often as I eat meals.  I’m going to assume it’s probably some confluence between the two, since Stormy Daniels’ lawyer has been a ubiquitous presence on television since early this year.  But it appears as if Avenatti’s connections don’t stop with the media. They go well beyond that, and they tie him to a major Clinton Foundation donor and one of the professors that the Trump dossier hinges upon.

While rich and connected people tend to also know other rich and connected people, this isn’t just guilt by association. There’s currently a great deal of speculation about where Avenatti got the money to represent Daniels — and while he claims he got it from crowdfunding and Daniels herself, there’s a fair amount of doubt regarding this.

Avenatti, 47, is known to be an avid sports car racer, even having raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. One of his co-drivers in that event was none other than Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family:

And Al Saud is not just any member of the royal family. He is the son of Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who led Saudi Arabia’s intelligence at the time of the 9/11 attacks.  Turki also a big fan of the Clinton Foundation, as foreign eminences tended to be before Nov. 8, 2016.

“Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S. and member of the Saudi royal family who has attended annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative, made donations in 2013 and 2014, though exact dates aren’t available,” the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015.  The Journal also reported that Turki had met Bill Clinton when both were studying at Georgetown. At the time of the article, Turki’s staff declined to comment on the donations or his relationship with either Clinton.  We also now know that Clinton’s campaign had paid for Fusion GPS to assemble the Trump dossier. Part of the dossier focused on Joseph Mifsud, a mysterious Maltese professor who allegedly has links to the Kremlin and told former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos about “dirt” Russia may have on Hillary Clinton.

A relatively flamboyant figure during his time in academia (particularly given a dearth of intelligent work on his part), Mifsud has gone into hiding since the Trump dossier was released. During a long and sketchy academic career, the BBC reports that one of Mifsud’s jobs was in Riyadh, where he was under a Saudi think-tank led by none other than Prince Turki al Faisal.

Interesting connection: The Saudi Prince tied to Avenatti is also connected to Joseph Misfud, who is the professor linked to the supposed origins of the "Trump-Russia" dossier. Mifsud worked for al-Faisal's Riyadh-based think tank.https://t.co/ArRHCI0UnThttps://t.co/pHXE3Vvmca

— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) May 13, 2018

This doesn’t necessarily link Avenatti directly to the Clinton Foundation nor does it link the Clinton Foundation to Mifsud’s participation in the Trump dossier. But it raises serious questions about when Avenatti was the recipient of an awful lot of data that your average lawyer wouldn’t know.

In a piece for The Hill last week, Op-Ed contributor Mark Penn questioned just how Avenatti had come across the “detailed financial information” to file a report on money received by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, arguing that “he didn’t find it on Google.”  “This is the kind of information that would have been known only by the Treasury Department, his banks or by prosecutors, raising some serious questions about what kind of operation Avenatti is running. Is there a team of people digging this up? Are they paying off sources? Is Fusion GPS involved?” Penn wrote.

An awful lot of questions about Avenatti’s sudden rise to media cynosure need to be answered, and they don’t stop with where his money came from. Avenatti claims he’s received payment for the Daniels case from the porn star herself and from crowdfunding, although Daniels has previously said she isn’t paying for her representation and crowdfunding generally doesn’t buy the kind of enthusiasm and omnipresence Avenatti has brought to the case.

Is there any connection to the Clinton Foundation or Fusion GPS? It could simply be randomness, but some sort of legitimate connection is far from out of the question, especially given the quality of opposition research Avenatti — heretofore mostly a high-end cultural ambulance chaser — seems to have been able to dredge up. For all of his loquaciousness, Avenatti seems loath to discuss details about how he got involved in the case and who’s paying for him.

Those are questions we wouldn’t mind having answered in a little more detail the next time that he makes one of his many appearances on CNN. If this were a lawyer associated with Trump and these kind of connections had surfaced regarding the Saudi royal family and Mifsud, the mainstream media would be all over this, particularly if said lawyer was practically camping out on their newsroom floor.

It’s time for the media to step up and do its job.