Seattle Sued Over Use Of “Green Police”

But, does this have any merit? Oh, and it is amusing that the uber-Progressive citizens of Seattle are suddenly upset when the far left politicians they voted in to office institute a policy that comes back and negatively effects those same citizens

(Fox News) When it comes to garbage, the city of Seattle has launched a waste war.

Nine full-time solid waste inspectors have been hired as part of a controversial program to check city trash to make sure people are recycling. Additionally, contracted waste haulers have been effectively deputized as trash police, given the authority to tag bins when people fail to recycle and compost enough.

The program is now the subject of a lawsuit, as residents fume over what some call an intrusive government program.

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“I understand people have noble goals,” said Keli Carender, who got tagged two weeks in a row, an offense that soon could bring a fine. “But at some point we have to say, you can’t violate my rights to achieve this noble goal.”

Carender is among 14,000 residential and commercial customers this year to get tagged. The sticker warns them that more than 10 percent of their trash content should have been recycled or put into compost bins.

Do the residents have any protections against this?

(Is That Legal?) As a general rule, it is legally permissible to go through the trash of another person. However, there are a couple nuances worth noting. First, if the person going through the trash is a police officer or one who is acting on the behalf of a police officer, then United States Supreme Court case law is quite clear: it is legal, constitutional, and not even considered a “search.” (see California v. Greenwood, 486 US 35). The Supreme Court has consistently held that an expectation of privacy does not give rise to Fourth Amendment constitutional protection unless society is prepared to accept that expectation as objectively reasonable. Therefore, since the Court did not believe society was prepared to accept an expectation of privacy in the garbage we put out to the curb for collection as objectively reasonable, it is not unlawful for an officer or his agent to go through such trash. Second, a private citizen will not likely go to jail for simply rummaging through the trash of another person. However, if he does anything that the state he lives in finds unlawful during the course of his rummaging, he could face criminal charges, serious penalties, and even jail time.

But (back to the news article)

“The Supreme Court of Washington state went the other direction,” said Ethan Blevins, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation who filed the lawsuit. “[It] said our state Constitution provides better protection, and we believe that people expect that our garbage is going to be protected from prying eyes.”

Blevins cites a ruling in which a criminal conviction was overturned on the grounds that the police found a key piece of evidence in the suspect’s trash without first obtaining a search warrant.

So legal? Illegal? Realistically, the fines are minor, ranging from $1 to $50, and do not even start till January 1st, 2016. But, there is no appeals process, which may, in fact, violate due process proscription. Regardless, it is amusing to see the Progressives get upset when they are forced to walk the talk.

And, yes, you did read it right that Seattle has actually hired people who are drawing a salary to inspect people’s garbage.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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