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Things not seen

   The searchers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today worry about government officials who like to hide things, and encourages other government officials -- mostly judges -- to make them stop.

- Burying the question - Buffalo News Editorial
   You'd think that people who aspire to the title "election commissioner" would be all about making it as easy as possible for the qualified electors of any jurisdiction to intelligently cast their ballots.
   Maybe in some places. Not in Erie County.
   [Referendum's place on ballot an issue - Buffalo News, Oct. 19]
   By working together in a way that gives the term "bipartisan" a really bad ring, Election Commissioners Dennis E. Ward, the Democrat, and Ralph M. Mohr, the Republican, have done about all that can be done to block, and then obscure, a public vote on the proposition to downsize the Erie County Legislature.
   First the pair tried to disqualify the referendum on shrinking the legislative body from 15 members to 11 on the grounds that the wrong functionary had filed the document after it was approved by the Legislature.
   After that stunt was rightfully rejected by a local judge, Ward and Mohr returned with the news that the ballot question would be printed on the back of the paper ballot, not at the top as has been the traditional home for such questions. ...
   The election commissioners should change their mind and put the ballot questions on the front. If they don't do it on their own, the commissioners' acknowledged hostility to the question should move a court to order it. ...

Affront to the Constitution - Buffalo News Editorial
  The ticking-bomb rule just doesn’t hold water if the timer has been going for a month.
   That was the ruling by one federal appeals court in August, when it rightly overturned a Washington, GPS D.C., night-club owner’s drug conviction on the grounds that the global positioning system device [right] police had attached to his car — for 28 days — amounted to an unconstitutional search.
   Unfortunately, other federal courts, including the usually liberal 9th Circuit Court in California, have held otherwise. Worse, the Obama administration in general, and the FBI in particular, continue to argue that investigators have the right to attach GPS gizmos to cars belonging to anyone, for any reason, for any length of time, without having to explain themselves to a judge.
   [Discovery Of GPS Tracker Becomes Privacy Issue - AP/NPR, Oct. 16]
   This line of thinking clearly offends the spirit of the Bill of Rights, even if its authors weren’t clairvoyant enough to include the letters GPS in the Fourth Amendment. ...
  Because some federal courts agree that a warrant should be required for such activities, and some do not, the logical next step is for the question to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. But, given its current make-up and the chief justice’s devotion to conservative judicial activism, the chances of the civil liberties of American citizens and legal residents being protected at that level are slim.
   Better the White House change its tune. Better still that Congress make the the warrant requirement a law, so no one will be confused that the Constitution means what it says.

   Nickelback: "Where Do I Hide?":


-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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