Like Glenn, I’m a little astounded at how little the progressive blogosphere seems to care about actions that, if done by the Bush administration, would be met by cries of outrage.
If the defenders’ response to these legal challenges is “Yeah, but I trust Obama,” then our legal rights essentially exist at the mercy of whoever is in office. And as you see, it’s getting steadily worse:
A very significant case involving core privacy protections is now being litigated, where the Obama Justice Department is seeking to obtain from Yahoo “all emails” sent and received by multiple Yahoo email accounts, despite the fact that DOJ has never sought, let alone obtained, a search warrant, and despite there being no notice of any kind to the email account holders. As part of a case conducted largely under seal and thus hidden from public view, the DOJ demanded these emails from Yahoo without any effort to demonstrate probable cause to believe the email user was involved in the commission of any crime, but instead merely with the vague claim that there is “reasonable ground to believe” the emails “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” If the DOJ position were accepted, Americans would have substantially less privacy protections in their email communications.
Federal law is crystal clear that a probable cause search warrant is required for the Government to obtain any emails that have been stored less than 180 days — one that requires a showing of probable cause and that requires the documents sought to be described with particularlity. Yahoo — to its credit — therefore refused to turn over any such emails to the Government without a search warrant. Yahoo’s refusal has led the DOJ to seek a federal court Order compelling Yahoo to comply with the demand, and a coalition of privacy groups and technology companies — led by EFF and including Google — have now filed a brief supporting Yahoo’s position. Both Yahoo and that coalition argue that both federal law as well as the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protection bar the Obama DOJ from acquiring these emails without a search warrant.
But hey, isn’t it great that we have a constitutional law professor in the White House?