Supreme Court: Police May Violate Your Rights if They Have “Mistaken Understanding” of Law

On Monday, a group of robe-wearing individuals collectively known as the “Supreme Court” said that police employees can violate your rights, so long as done based on the police employee’s “mistaken understanding” of legislation.

Click to read Supreme Court justification >>

As reported by Adam Liptak at the New York Times:

The case arose from a traffic stop in North Carolina based on a broken brake light. But state law there required only a single working “stop lamp,” which the car in question had.

In an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Supreme Court ruled that the officer’s mistake was reasonable and so did not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

That traffic stop happen back in 2009. Matt Darisse, employed at the Surry County Sheriff ’s Department (336.401.8900), activated his emergency lights and stopped a vehicle traveling on I-77. Darisse’s rationale was that one of the brake lights on the vehicle was out. Yet there was no emergency. And having a brake light out was not a “stoppable offense” in North Carolina.

After gaining consent to search the vehicle [never give police consent!], Darisse found cocaine in a sandwich bag (which by itself, causes no victim), which he stole. That cocaine would not have been found but for the illegal traffic stop. Despite that fact, eight of the nine people who constitute the “Supreme Court” said that:

Darisse’s mistaken understanding of the law was reasonable, and thus the stop was valid.

The lone dissenter, Sonia Sotomayor, said this:

means further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down.

This proclamation by the majority of the “Supreme Court” – that police employees can legally violate your rights based on a misunderstanding – is not a surprise. Police and the courts share a foundation of claimed double standards. If their legitimacy slips, so too does the Statist Quo.

What are the takeaways?

Never give consent to police to search your person or property. Film the police. If you truly believe that you own yourself, reject the authority claimed by those who claim to be your ruler. Don’t look to pieces of paper for you rights, or to the “Supreme Court” to know what is right and what is wrong. When “legal” claims conflict with your conscience, if you value justice and truth ignore the former and act in accord with the latter.


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Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.