Why Is the EPA Using Drones to Spy on Cattle Ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa?
This is becoming more and more an issue that will erode our privacy and our freedoms. We need a strong message to be sent to congress. We must stand strong on the Constitution. The Supreme Court must ask "Would I want a drone following me, to see if I am behaving..." All this brings new meaning to "If I could be a fly on the wall" ! - Andy Elliott
The EPA is using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa in order to make sure that farmers dispose of waste properly. On Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., Judge Andrew Napolitano said that as shocking as this news is, an opinion by the Supreme Court says that as long as the EPA is using the drones for an administrative purpose, it doesn’t need a warrant in order to do this. “If this is a legitimate area of concern for the EPA, the Supreme Court has said they can use the drones,” said Napolitano.
Judge Napolitano wrote this exclusive commentary on the topic for the Fox News Insider.
The government may lawfully use technology, just like the rest of us, to make its work more efficient. But it cannot use technology to by-pass the Constitution.
Thus, if its lawful obligation is to monitor real estate to assure itself that the occupier of the lands is not adversely affecting the natural habitat, it may use drones to view the lands. But, generally speaking, that is not the job of the EPA. It sets rules for the use of private property that assures its highest and best use, consistent with nature. It can only monitor that use when it has evidence of a specific violation of that use. Thus, it can only fly drones to look at real estate when it has reason to believe that a specific regulation, directed to the owner or occupier of that land, is being violated. It cannot engage in fishing expeditions from the sky.
The constitutional problem arises when the drone spies some event outside the jurisdiction of the EPA. And much of what the drones will see will be outside that jurisdiction and either innocent or ambiguous. Is that Sudafed for your cold or your meth habit? Is that fertilizer for your rose bushes or to build a bomb? Are you smoking in the presence of your children? How utterly un-American is it for the government–EPA or FBI–to watch us on our private property? These are questions that will come up when the feds put eyes in the skies under the guise of monitoring EPA regulations.
That’s why we have a Fourth Amendment. It guarantees privacy and assures us the right to be left alone. It also requires a warrant from a judge to invade privacy. True fidelity to the Constitution requires a warrant from a judge before any government drone can be used for any purpose. But that is not yet the current practice.