Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A Story About a Camera Carrying Bear: Grrrrrrrr

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Science & Society, Law

Ed Hesser

--Amendment IV. Constitution of the United States of America. Bill of Rights, Ratified effective December 15, 1791

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 of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons of things to be seized.

Orin S. Kerr, School of Law, University of California - Berkeley just wrote about a civil suit "recently filed in Federal Court in which the complaint alleged that Connecticut officials violated a couple's Fourth Amendment Rights by releasing camera-carrying bears in the area that came within 200 yards of their home." The full complaint - 9 pages - is linked.

For the record it is about Bear 119.

Kerr notes that the commentariat is having "fun with the case. And to the extent some readers have strong views of putting video cameras on wild bears as a matter of policy. I am glad this case gives them an opportunity to voice those concerns.  

Kerr begins with a link to comments by Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University who thinks that the case has merit based on property rights law. Kerr thinks that the suit does not have legal merit (Amendment IV). Kerr discusses three problems.

-- The bears did not enter a space that the Fourth Amendment protects

-- There's reason to doubt the bears are covered by the Fourth Amendment. 

-- The plaintiffs are seeking a remedy that is not available to them, at least based on the complaint.

Kerr closed his short essay by writing "that discussing current law draws the ire of some readers, who prefer we discuss what the law of camera-carrying wild bears should become, not merely what the rulings of small-minded courts would suggest it now is. But I figured I would at least offer the latter."
Here is the essay from the column, The Volokh Conspiracy, published in Reason Magazine June 7, 2023.

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