Words Fail Me

Rep. James Sensenbrenner is preparing to hold hearings about “trampling the Consitution”. What trampling of the Consitution? Is it the Patriot Act? No. Is it about the Kelo decision? No. It is none other than the raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s office by FBI agents wearing suits. Why is this so disgusting? Thanks to Radley Balko we have a list of actual incidents where one could argue persuasively that Constitution was trampled.

  • In December of last year, a SWAT team in Pewaukee mistakenly raided the home of H. Victor Beurosse, a retired lawyer. When they raided the correct home, his neighbor, they found enough marijuana for nor more than a misdemeanor possession charge.
  • In February 2001, a SWAT team in Muskego descended on the home of Susan Wilson and forced her face-first into the pavement of her driveway at gunpoint while they searched her home. They had the wrong address. Three years earlier, the same SWAT team received public criticism for apprehending a suspect with a full-on raid of a shopping mall Houlihan’s during the busy lunch hour.
  • In 2000, a SWAT team launched a wrong-door no-knock raid on Wendy and Jesus Olveda, throwing the young couple to the floor at gunpoint and putting boots to their heads as their terrified three-year-old daughter looked on. The cops had the wrong address.
  • In 1998, a SWAT team stormed an apartment in Milwaukee, deployed flashbang grenades, and handcuffed the residents at gunpoint — save for the two-year-old girl inside, whom they allowed to simply look on in horror. They too had the wrong address.
  • In the mid 1990s, there were so many botched SWAT raids by a multi-jurisdictional drug task force serving several towns in Central Wisconsin that the private company that insured the towns threatened to withdraw its coverage unless the task force dramatically scaled back its tactics.
  • In 1995, police in Dodge County, Wisconsin raided the home of Scott Bryant after finding traces of mariuana in the man’s trash. Deputies forced entry into the home (they say they announced themselves — neighbors say they heard no such announcement) where Bryant met them with a gun. They shot and killed Bryant in front of his eight-year-old son. Bryant’s family later won a $950,000 settlement. The same police department was later sued for conducting a botched raid on another home, keeping four occupants handcuffed at gunpoint for more than four hours while they searched for drugs. They found nothing.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is…well if I wrote what I was actually thinking James would have to edit this post. But we are to believe that Rep. James Sensenbrenner really does care about the Constitution. Sure. I’m thinking that the last thing Rep. James Sensenbrenner cares about is the Constitution.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Constitution, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. JKB says:

    Most people have forgotten the rhetoric that pervaded DC prior to September 11. I moved to the DC region in late 1999. There even the local news is saturated with congressional rhetoric. I quickly noticed that both sides of the aisle had a common them. Each pandering seemed would profess the great need to impose some edict, but for it being blocked by that bothersome Constitution. This rhetoric died away after the attack but we should have known it wouldn’t last. It does seem that those who find the Constitution a burden are those we entrust to govern by it.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Sounds like Frist is showing some backbone on this issue. Good for him.

  3. Kent says:

    Assuming the SWAT teams had a warrant, the Constitution was not trampled. Idiocy by police (and possibly judges responsible for granting warrants) is not the same as a Constitutional crisis.

    I’m just saying that not all appalling acts by government are unconstitutional.

  4. RJN says:

    Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is going to help save our butts from the awful immigration reform bill that Sen. Frist let through the Senate.

    I do agree, however, that we the people are under an increased threat from our own police depts. because of the so-called Patriot Act.

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    I don’t know Kent, using no-knock raids along with paramilitary units to serve warrants on minor drug offenders strikes me as trampling the Constitution in spirit is not in letter. If you go the Balko’s site you’ll see a description of a no-knock raid, with a warrant that went wrong. Wrong apartment, throwing a disabled woman and her boyfriend to the ground, holding guns on them, etc. Then these same cops went to the right apartment, knocked on the door, served the warrant without a “dynamic entry” arrested four people and confiscated a few ounces of marijuana.

    If the Constitution has been damaged in a very minor way with this incident and the SCOTUS and Congress’ approval of these tactics then I’m not sure what damages the Constitution. Then multiply all this kind of damamge by all the inappropriate uses of SWAT units and we have, I think, a fairly serious problem.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    Oh yeah, and in serving the warrant on the right premise, no flash-bang device was used either. Next thing you’ll know we’ll be using Delta Force units to enforce jay-walking citations.