Secret Service Violates 4th Amendment Rights of Diners to Stop Photo’s of Michelle Obama

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.

The above is the text to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.   It protects American Citizens from not only search but illegal seizure of personal property.  The New York Post is reporting that Federal law enforcement agents, more specifically Secret Service agents, confiscated the cell phones of citizens who were in the same public space as Michelle Obama.

MICHELLE Obama, like her husband, enjoys a good burger, but not as well done. The first lady brought daughters Malia and Sasha to former “Top Chef” contestant Spike Mendelsohn’sGood Stuff Eatery in DC for cheeseburgers, onion rings, fries, and milkshakes. “They got the burgers medium,” says a spy. (President Obama was mildly ridiculed after ordering a burger medium-well in January.) “Three starving Secret Service guys were literally standing over the grill as Spike made the burgers, but didn’t eat,” our source adds. Fellow patrons had their cellphones temporarily confiscated to prevent pictures from being taken.<

This raises a significant amount of questions the first of which is, how does Michelle Obama believe that she and her family have any expectation of privacy in a public place?  There is no expectation of privacy in public.

The second is, when did this become the policy of the Secret Service. I have spoken with former officials in the Bush White House that have assured me that this was not the policy of the former administration.  This does absolutely nothing to help Michelle or Barack Obama’s image.  It further shows that they consider themselves above ordinary Americans.

The other questions that are raised are those of a political and policy nature.  The left and Barack Obama have time and time again hammered the Bush Administration for warrantless wiretapping of foreign terrorist subjects.  Wiretapping that was of foreign phone calls where one end of the line was in the United States. This is much worse. This is the confiscation of private property by law enforcement officials with no warrant and no suspicion of guilt.  

Barack Obama owes the American People an explanation as to why he thinks his Secret Service Agents can violate the Fourth Amendment rights of private citizens. All in the name of protecting his wife from a picture with a hamburger in her mouth from getting on the internet.

HT:  Michael Graham

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno

  • benwetmore

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    It is the unabashed belief that they are above the law – pure and simple.

    BTW – Michelle has proven to be a rather uneventful first lady, don’t you think?

  • The owner of the eatery says, “Please give your cell phones to the agents temporarily or you will be asked to leave.”  I don’t see a violation in that case.

    Even barring that, I don’t believe it is a violation for a law enforcement officer to merely ask that something be done.  If a policeman shows up at your door and says, “May I look around?”  and you agree, then that isn’t illegal because you gave permission.  Although if you said, “Get a warrant or pound sand.” then that would be the end of it.

    But I’m not a lawyer.  I don’t even play one on TV.

  • Festus Garvey

    …where was your outrage at the Bush Secret Service?

    Just another example of phony outraged from the Right.

  • schulteraffe

    ….a lawyer, even though I don’t play one on TV.

    There is not enough information here to surmise a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  

    First of all, your source is a gossip column so a big grain of salt is required here.

    Second, as Patrick pointed out, voluntarily complying with a temporary seizure of personal property is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  And the Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement, upon making a request to search or seize need not inform an individual that they have the right to refuse to comply.  In short, there is no Miranda style warning for searches and seizures.  If you waive the right, even if you did not know you could, your rights have not been violated.

    Moreover, also as Patrick pointed out, as long as there is no suspect classification implicated, a private business owner can condition service on compliance with reasonable requests, such as, the First Family is here, you must surrender your cell phone if you wish to be served.

    Unless you can cite a source that says that the Secret Service requested a patron’s cell phone, the patron refused, and the agent made them give it over knowing that the owner of the establishment refused to condition service on such compliance, there is simply no constitutional violation here.  

    Also, I have spent lots of time in federal buildings and with federal officials.  Surrendering of personal electronic devices is standard operating procedure.  Not because people might use them to take pictures, but because they can be used as detonators.  Here, an unnamed source in a gossip column suggests the reason for confiscating the phones was to prevent taking of pictures.  Knowing what I do about federal security procedures, I sincerely doubt that these phones were taken for this purpose.  It is a security measure.  One that I know the secret service commonly employs when practical . . . and  has been in place for longer than the Obama’s have been in the White House.  

    Warrantless wiretapping, however, is a constitutional violation as determined by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions.  

    You’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill here, and used it to compare apples to oranges.  

  • This is probably apples & oranges but a no-photo policy isn’t exactly new – at least to the Obama Administration.

    Back in June I took a day trip to Washington DC with the primary goal of taking the public, East Wing, tour of the White House.

    To my surprise it was clearly noted in the documentation that photography was NOT permitted within the White House.  Now, this rule probably went back to GWB if not well before but I did find it a little strange.  Not only were cameras not permitted but cell phones had to be kept in your pocket and could not be used as camera.  Of course, phones also had to be off to be silent – which isn’t any different from a movie theater request.

    However, you’re a tourist.  You’re on vacation.  You’ve gone through a background check & a metal detector yet you can’t take pictures in the White House?  Is this some sort of White House Visitors Center plot to sell souvenir guide books?  Actually, it may very well be as they were sold out!

    Seriously… you’re on a trip of a lifetime, visiting the White House (and not exactly the West Wing where you know, something besides tourists & ceremonials happen) and you can’t take photos?!  

    To be fair, the prohibition seems to be photos IN the White House as, assuming for the sake of discussion that the prohibition of photography inside extends at least into GWB, we were allowed to bring cameras on on the South Lawn of the White House when His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visited.

  • all i can tell you is that my cousin, a staunch democrat who voted for our current president, is now very much up in arms about the confiscating of cell phones, because least of all, they had to have burgers.  i did not vote democratic, i did at one time, but i will never vote for that party again.  i realize that this white house wants to bankrupt us intentionally for their gain and to create a system that will strip us of our constitutional rights.  it’s about money in the end.  it’s about taking any potential gains in our personal lives away from us.  the healthcare proposal is about destruction of the life we live as we know it.  it is about creating a new government order explicitly for the agenda of none other than revenge. my mother is afraid of these talking points about her healthcare and it’s insinuation that she is not worth the powder to blow her to hell. my cousins husband has a union job for a large company and they have already been assured that they will keep their company healthcare plan.  no rationed healthcare for them!  all unions will be exempt from having to give up their company-sponsored healthcare.  what is wrong with this picture!!! make a special point americans to find out that whatever you purchase if it has come from a union-run company. do not give up the life you know in this wonderful country because someone else thinks it is their right to take it away from you. it is our duty to take back our america!

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    Just something to ponder….

    Imagine the scenario:

    You are sitting in a restaurant having a slice of pizza and talking casually to your friend on the phone, when suddenly the secret service sweeps through the front and back doors.  You know what the secret service looks like by the black suits and their sunglasses, as well as the sub machine guns tucked under the jackets.  Several agents approach you from across the room and ask you for your cell phone in that cold hard stare they are so good at.  Do you give it up or do you crap your underwear?  Is it really voluntary?

    I would have given up my phone thinking they were going to kick the living crap out of me if I didn’t.  Then after the fact, I would have been mad as hell that I didn’t resist the temptation to comply with the request knowing my fourth amendment rights.

    Voluntary?  I don’t know…..

    When the Secret Service asks me to do something I do it….

  • geo999

    …does not work for the Obamas. They work for us.

    If they felt it advisable to secure devices that had the potential to physically harm the first family, then they were obligated to do so.

    If their actions can be shown to be P.R. motivated, then that is a different matter altogether.

    Did they secure personal cameras that were not also cell phones?  

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    I think this may just be a matter of overexposure by the Obamas.  There has been talk lately of how Barack Obama has had more press conferences in his first six months than Bush did in his first four years.  Certainly they (the Obamas) have a celebrity status far above the Bush and Clinton families.  So, by trying to cut back on the photos of their every move they might just be trying to stop the over exposure.  People are getting tired of seeing Obama on the news every single day and night.  It hurts his poll numbers.  There are politicians whose poll numbers go up with less exposure.

    Think about it – they have outright told the media to back off of their vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  Plus, as we all know, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

    As far as taking away people’s phones – perhaps the Obamas were trying to stop unnecessary media attention that would result from all the questions – What did they order?  Will Michelle’s hamburger go to her thighs?  Did the kids get any fresh vegetables in their dinner?  etc, etc, etc.