Americans Should Finish Unpacking Their Conflicting Views on Search and Seizure

By JohnTaylor Wildfeuer

jt.wildfeuer@gmail.com

 

In the weeks after the Aug. 8 FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, progressives have been heard praising law enforcement, and conservatives calling to defund them.

 

Walking around the Upper West Side in Manhattan, I chanced to meet Congressman Jerry Nadler, who was out pressing the proverbial palms of his constituents (the pandemic once again changing the rules of decorum). 

 

I spoke with him briefly about House Minority McCarthy’s call for a congressional probe into the Department of Justice pursuant to the raid. 

 

Nadler says proper respect was given to due process, and said that in order to execute the search the Justice Department had to first, “convince a judge that there’s probable cause to believe that there’s evidence of a crime in the place to be searched.” 

 

While the political divide is working through this role reversal, National Archive librarians want what every librarian does: the timely return of materials that belong to the public.

 

My beloved local librarians have a lot of patience, but I can hardly imagine their response were I to be found to have taken boxes of materials I interacted with as a volunteer, and when called out proceeded to complain loudly and largely refuse to comply with their return.

 

I would like my nation’s federal agents to be largely sitting behind desks, pursuing better parity in white collar arrests, more effectively stemming the tide of online sexual abuse imagery, or infiltrating domestic terrorist groups.

 

Pitted against these, a dozen missing boxes from the National Archives can seem frivolous, if not outright political retaliation.

 

Congressman Nadler says, “Search warrants are issued all the time, there’s no difference between this search warrant and any other search warrant, it’s just Republicans trying to create hysteria.”

 

Certainly, a duly issued and executed warrant is not immune to petty politicking, and it is far from the case that American law enforcement has a perfect track record on overreach.

 

That said, is it not petty politicking to remove a collection of potentially relevant records from the office of one’s political successor? Does corporate America allow outgoing CEOs a right of first refusal on proprietary materials?

 

Former President or not, late fees should be charged, perhaps even library cards revoked.

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