It Looks Like the FBI Is Realizing It Went Too Far This Time

It Looks Like the FBI Is Realizing It Went Too Far This Time

The FBI cannot seem to stop trampling American citizens’ constitutional rights.

But some victims of government abuse have fought back. And their tenacity has left the bureau scrambling to save face.

According to Rob Johnson, senior attorney at the nonprofit Institute for Justice, a landmark Fourth Amendment case pending in California might soon result in severe chastisement for the tyrannical FBI.

In 2021, the bureau raided U.S. Private Vaults, a safety storage company based in Beverly Hills, California, on suspicion of money laundering — a charge to which the company later pleaded guilty.

While conducting their raid, however, FBI agents exceeded their authority.

Their search warrant called for them to open safety deposit boxes and then “inspect the contents of the boxes in an effort to identify their owners … so that they can claim their property.”

Instead, under a sweeping and oft-abused system of “civil asset forfeiture,” agents confiscated the boxes’ contents and then refused the return anything worth more than $5,000, even in instances where the government charged the property owners with no crime.

For instance, retired government worker Don Mellein, 79, lost 110 collectible gold coins worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI confiscated the coins during the raid and had no intention of returning them until Mellein and others filed suit with help from IJ.

Last month, a panel of judges with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing in Los Angeles.

As part of a lengthy thread posted Dec. 5 on the social media platform X, Johnson wrote that it “may be the most important Fourth Amendment case pending in the United States today.”

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from conducting “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Also of relevance in this case, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The Fourth Amendment, however, should strike readers as more important here because it pertains to the FBI’s initial conduct of “searches and seizures” rather than the “due process” that might follow.

In any event, this case understandably came to the attention of the Institute for Justice, which describes itself as a “national civil liberties law firm that represents everyday people — free of charge — when the government violates their most important constitutional rights.”

The institute’s followers on X include libertarian-minded figures such as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and his father, former Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

In short, the FBI has violated the Bill of Rights, and a group of libertarian attorneys have sought justice.


That brings us to the latest update, including evidence that the good guys have left the FBI staggered.

“For starters, oral argument was fantastic. The judges called the government’s conduct ‘egregious’ and ‘outrageous.’ One of the judges even compared the FBI’s search to the kinds of broad, general searches that sparked the Revolutionary War,” Johnson wrote Thursday at the beginning of another lengthy thread on X.

In 1761 — one year after King George III ascended to the British throne — Massachusetts lawyer James Otis challenged the Crown’s general search warrants, called “writs of assistance.”

“Every one with this writ may be a tyrant,” Otis thundered.

Johnson thought this particular comparison might have stung the government.

“It should go without saying, but the FBI and the DOJ typically don’t like being compared to King George,” he wrote as part of a follow-up post.

In response, the government has filed what one of Johnson’s colleagues cheekily described as a “Motion to Lose Without Published Opinion.”

“The basic gist is that the government now supports a court order to provide our clients ‘the maximum remedy available.’ The government doesn’t actually admit that it violated the Fourth Amendment, but it says we should win,” Johnson said.

In another post, Johnson explained the government’s objective.

“They realize their goose is cooked, and they want to avoid a decision that will bind them in the future,” he wrote.

In other words, the FBI acknowledged wrongdoing in this case — and it wants to keep on doing it.

An agency that has so often violated Americans’ civil rights with its selective and heavy-handed enforcement of laws against those it deems political enemies should be genuflecting to the sovereign people and begging forgiveness.

Instead, seeing the writing on the wall in one Fourth Amendment case, it seeks to protect its future plunder.

Disband the FBI now.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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