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After 240 Years “General Warrants” Coming Back For Your Virginia Computer Records

General Warrant

We’ve “missed” them since the American Revolutionary War, but ”general warrants” are back in Virginia, and are aimed at computer service providers no less.

Special thanks go to the Virginia General Assembly, which, although it seems to ignore the Bill of Rights, is on the brink of voting to have a constitutional convention to amend the United States Constitution.

You can’t make this stuff up.

HB 1946 now authorizes Virginia to obtain “record[s] from a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service.”

Because the bill requires no specifics in these subpoenas, such as the place from which the records must be produced, it authorizes “general warrants.”  General warrants are illegal under Art. I, Sec. 10 of the Virginia Constitution.  Known as “Writs of Assistance,” the British use of general warrants was one of the major reasons leading to the American Revolution.

The subpoenas (aka, warrants) described in the legislation may be issued without authorization by a judge, which is also illegal under the Fourth Amendment, as described in Katz v. US (1967).

Searches conducted without warrants have been held unlawful “notwithstanding facts unquestionably showing probable cause,” Agnello v. United States . . . for the Constitution requires “that the deliberate, impartial judgment of a judicial officer . . . be interposed between the citizen and the police. . ..” Wong Sun v. United State . . . “Over and again, this Court has emphasized that the mandate of the [Fourth] Amendment requires adherence to judicial processes,” United States v. Jeffers . . . and that searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment  — subject only to a few specifically established and well delineated exceptions.

And, these subpoenas are not issued under “probable cause” required under the Fourth Amendment, but when “there is reason to believe that the records or other information being sought are relevant to a legitimate law-enforcement investigation.”

Another kicker is that “The subpoena shall include a provision ordering the service provider not to notify or disclose the existence of the subpoena to another person.”

Get this:  The legislation was introduced by a lawyer, and has passed the Courts of Justice Committee.

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, objections have been raised about the Virginia 21st Century Fourth Amendment as possibly having “unintended consequences.”

The “intended consequences” would include the Virginia’s General Assembly abiding by the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.  What a revolutionary concept!

Constitutional lawyer Mark J. Fitzgibbons is the co-author, with CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie, of the pamphlet on the Constitution "The Law that Governs Government." A similar article by Fitzgibbons appeared in The Fauquier Free Citizen.

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Convention of the States

You seem to be against The Convention of the States from the swipe in the story about Virginia's unconstitutional warrant law. I know the concerns about a general Constitutional Convention, but if it is called BY THE STATES to address ISSUES SPECIFIED BY THE STATES, and has to be acceptable to a super-majority of the States, I don't see the threat. ??? Help me on this? I know Eagle Forum is concerned, also, and I do highly regard them as well, but I think you're reacting to a different scenario.

Convention of the States

CHQ has not taken a position for or against the calling of an Article V Convention of the States... and we respect the arguments for a COS put forth by Ken Cuccinelli on these pages and by Mark Levin on his radio program. However, when we look around at the field of potential delegates, as the recent battle over a Virginia "21st Century Fourth Amendment" shows, we see a serious shortage of women and men like James Mason, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and that gives us serious pause about where such a convention might go. So count us as open minded about the possibility, but in no rush to change the Constitution we have for one that might allow 'general warrants' and other trappings of the security state...