If there is one lemonade-out-of-lemons-type thing about living in Illinois it’s that I have learned everything I need to know about what the face of corruption looks like. When corruption happens as often and as casually as it does in Illinois, one learns to spot it almost anytime, anywhere. That’s why when Kevin Fox, a resident of Will County, Illinois, was arrested in 2004 for the alleged murder/sexual assault of his 3-year-old daughter Riley, my interest was immediately piqued. After following the case for some time, it seemed something just wasn’t right about it. As it turned out, and as a court in Will County would prove, the “evidence” against Fox had been fabricated.
But this blog is about dogs, right? So what does Riley Fox’s murder and Kevin Fox’s frame-up have to do with dogs you might be wondering? Only that 4th amendment privacy rights, like those which were negated in the Kevin Fox case, are eroded or outright negated in the case of anti-tether legislation. This in turn erodes or negates 4th amendment privacy rights in all cases; cases like that of Kevin Fox.
Is it a stretch to correlate the erosion of privacy rights via anti-tethering legislation to the erosion of 4th amendment rights to privacy in criminal cases? Well, if you’re Kevin Fox I’m guessing you don’t think so. You see many anti-tethering laws define the mere tethering of a dog as “animal cruelty.” This in turn allows law enforcement, Animal Control, or a so-called “animal welfare” agency to trespass on your private property and not only take the tethered dog, but any and all other animals on the premises, and cite you for any other “violations.” In other words, probable cause — once defined as “reasonable ground for a belief, as, in a criminal case, that the accused was guilty of the crime” — has come to mean that some novice, quasi law-enforcement agent, or some otherwise untrained person inappropriately given police powers, may trespass on your private property under false pretenses and may after the fact dig up evidence on you, or fabricate it entirely, in order to prove there was probable cause that you were breaking the law.
In the case of anti-tethering legislation, probable cause is often defined as the mere act of tethering because this is claimed to be abusive; a claim which is unreasonable and dilutes the potency of the 4th amendment. To put that another way, probable cause in that situation no longer means law enforcement agents must support by oath or affirmation under the 4th amendment a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed because it is not reasonable to claim that mere tethering is abusive in the first place.
In the case of Kevin Fox, probable cause meant that he was arrested and “probable cause” was fabricated later to fill a prerequisite requirement for “solved” cases. How easy would it be then for a poorly-trained Animal Control officer or an “animal welfare” officer to do the same? (and we know this has already happened several times in the past so this is a legitimate concern).
That’s precisely what the court in the Fox trial ruled Thursday. The verdict indicated that the “probable cause” which initially and supposedly allowed law enforcement to take Kevin Fox into custody whereupon he was forced under duress to admit to the sexual assault and murder of his daughter, had been fabricated kind of like the mere fact that a dog is tethered is supposedly probable cause enough that there is animal cruelty going on. Am I comparing what happened to Kevin Fox with the mere tethering of a dog? Absolutely not. But I am illustrating how legislation passed which supposedly protects the welfare of animals can ultimately strip the rights of humans.
Some will say my purpose in writing this post is to make light of this little girl’s death by comparing it with something as seemingly trivial as animal legislation. On the contrary. My purpose in writing this post is to illustrate that animal legislation, which purports to give animals rights, must necessarily do so by negating human rights. The case of Kevin Fox illustrates this perfectly. His right to privacy and his right to not be cruelly or unusually punished in order to coerce an admission of guilt were violated. His civil rights were violated when his due process rights were denied him. These are all rights that were eroded or outright negated by animal legislation first!
Now we have been saying for years that it was only a matter of time before all the animal legislation which eroded or outright negated constitutional rights would be translated into the violation/negation of human rights. Lo and behold if the case of Kevin Fox doesn’t illustrate just that. In a verdict handed down Thursday, December 20, a federal jury awarded Kevin Fox $15.5 million “after deciding Will County sheriff’s detectives falsely arrested Fox in the sexual assault and murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Riley.” Still, do you think this will bring Kevin Fox’s daughter back to him? His grief has only just begun because finally a jury has allowed Fox for the first time since his daughter’s horrific death to properly grieve without the constant worry of a wrongful arrest (or without the constant reminder of his ordeal) by some Will County law enforcement officers who were hell-bent on getting a conviction no matter how many of Kevin Fox’s constitutional rights were violated and regardless of whether Fox was actually guilty of the crime or not. Fox’s false arrest and admission of guilt under duress are perfect examples of where the erosion of fundamental, inalienable rights — like the rights to substantive and procedural due process and the right to privacy — can lead. These are rights that are being eroded or outright negated as we speak by breed-specific legislation (a.k.a. “BSL”), mandatory spay/neuter, and anti-tether legislation among others.
On the whole, our Constitution is being slowly eroded away by the day via irresponsible nanny legislation which is perpetrated on the public under the guise of supposed safety but which actually serves only to negate Americans’ fundamental, inalienable constitutional rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, property, privacy, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to not be cruelly and unusually punished (read that as anything from water-boarding all the way down to the type of coercion that might elicit a false admission of guilt), the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to practice one’s religion, the right to due process, equal protection, and many other inalienable rights afforded each and every American under the U.S. Constitution. The framers of our Constitution held these rights to be self-evident, meaning these rights were so obvious and so fundamental the founding fathers almost didn’t have to bother enumerating them. Thank God almighty our founding fathers did list them because the way things are now, if these rights hadn’t been named we wouldn’t even miss them until they were gone. Some, due to ignorance, still won’t miss them until they’re gone.
So, when pondering the case of Kevin Fox I want you to remember this one thing: Look how far the seemingly simple dilution of the 4th amendment right to privacy can go. Indeed it could easily be said that Fox’s frame-up was courtesy of the systematic erosion/negation of fundamental rights via bad animal laws like breed bans, breed-specific strictures, mandatory spay/neuter, guardianship legislation, and anti-tethering legislation which for years now have eroded or outright negated 14th amendment rights to due process and equal protection, 4th amendment rights to privacy and security in one’s home, person, and effects, and the 8th amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, just to name a few. The systematic erosion of our Constitution is no longer debatable folks. There are now obvious and serious consequences for bad animal laws which usurp human rights under the pretense of giving them to animals.
Read more about it:
Police knew Fox was innocent, lawyer tells court
5 responses to “Is It Crazy to Believe That Anti-Tether Legislation Is Being Used to Erode 4th Amendment Privacy Rights? Crazy Like a Fox”
Nice, thoughtful post. Every day, our individual freedoms are taken away. The way I figure it, every single law that is passed takes some type of freedom from a person or business. While that’s not always a bad thing, because I do support many laws (especially when it comes to how we treat our environment and in many cases, public safety), there is no doubt that over time, our rights have become fewer and fewer — and will continue to erode our rights further over time (as new laws are passed). This can be seen every day with anti-smoking legislation, mandatory vaccines for young girls, etc.
One note though about anti-tethering ordinances though. Just because something is made illegal, does not mean that animal control officers/law enforcement should have the right to violate Constitutional rights in enforcing them or in how they are written.
Just because it’s against the law to drive more than 20 mph in a school zone (a good law for safety reasons that don’t violate any human rights) doesn’t mean that if I get pulled over that Police will take my car — or even have the right to search my car for a gun, marajuana, etc. It means i get a ticket for speeding, in hopes that I don’t do it again.
In the same way, anti tethering laws should not in any way allow officers to confiscate your dog or give them the right to wander onto your property and check out for other stuff. Law enforcement can meet with the dog’s owner, educate them on why keeping a dog tethered 24/7 without proper shelter is a bad idea, give them a small fine, and tell them to improve the situation or the fines escalate. This would not be a violation of any Consitutional rights.
While your fear of the violation of Constitutional rights are very valid, many of your concerns can be addressed with a) a well written and defined law with legal consequences and b) proper (legal) enforcement of said law. Your outrage should be more directed at law writers and enforcers (which more people should care about) than the people pushing for anti-tethering laws. Certain anti-tethering laws are no worse of an idea and certainly no more unconstitutional than laws that ban dog fighting or animal cruelty (which I think most people would agree are good idea, if you don’t, God help you). It’s all about the enforement and consequences of the said laws (which should not involve animal confiscation, at least not on the first couple of violations.
It goes without saying that abusive tethering and dog fighting are unacceptable. However, many of these anti-tethering laws have provisions in them which define any and all tethering as abusive. First of all it’s not true that all tethering is bad. Second, simply saying that tethering is abuse is supposedly “probable cause” enough to trespass and in some cases confiscate the tethered pet and other pets, but this is a violation of the 4th amendment (and one need not go to law school to see it). I have seen too many of these types of laws being proposed lately. Worse, I have seen a couple of proposals that would give “animal welfare” agents police powers which means they are trained to find any and all violations of the law once upon the premises.
Anti-cruelty laws are often strong enough to not need anti-tether legislation. And while many laws may adversely affect certain people, it should never be acceptable to negate the Constitution. What was perpetrated on Kevin Fox was unspeakable, but if this wholesale systematic elimination of the Constitution continues, there are going to be a lot of Kevin Foxes.
I agree with your comment. There are a lot of people out there proposing laws aren’t very aware of the unintended consequences of the law. I support some anti-tethering legislation (not against any tethering, but against non-supervised tethering — ie, you’d better be home and awake). However, I think it’s very important to define the consequences of violating the law so the dog cannot be confiscated (at least not until there are multiple offenses). Animal welfare groups should never have police powers. Ever. Most don’t even do a very good job of running their shelters.
I disagree that most cruelty laws are strong enough to handle irresponsible tethering. They should be, but most of them are as poorly written as the tethering laws. Most of these things are not all or nothing…and most of the people that propose tethering laws (IMO) are not doing so for malicious reasons (our ‘friends’ at HSUS notwithstanding). But like everything, people need to be aware of the unintended consequences of their actions…
Seems to me the more the government nannies the more they need to nanny.
Well, as I like to say, most of the laws which purport to protect public safety are actually a threat to same.
Interesting example, speeding. Here in Ontario, our former Attorney General (who tested the waters with a ‘breed’ (ha!) ban), moved on to bring in a law against drivers. Basically, speeding has morphed into ‘street racing’ with the assistance of the government’s handmaidens in the media although I note they’ve toned it down a bit. Gee, for a few weeks everybody was street racing all over the place, not that any of us have ever witnessed this.
So, if a police officer ‘believes’ your car is a ‘racing car’ he can seize it on the spot and there’s diddley you can do about it for at least 7 days. Even if it’s parked in front of a coffe shop. Even if somebody else is driving it, like your kid. When you get to court, if a judge ‘believes’ you have either used your car for illegal activity in the past or – get this – may use it for illegal activity in the future, you are SOL. Your car is forfeit to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG)and can be sold or destroyed.
This is similar to the Civil Remedies Act, also post ‘pit bull’ ban – which the same dangerous politician discovered wasn’t being used properly and just needed a couple of tweaks. Using this law, the government can use the lesser standard of proof in a civil hearing – balance of probabilities rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal hearing – to declare you a criminal and seize your property. The MAG has branded people ‘crack dealers’, seized their property and disposed of it in the absence of not only a criminal conviction but also of enough evidence having been gathered for the police to even lay charges. Our former and unfortunately still active AG claims he ‘ripped a page out of Rico’ and that’s a direct quote.
So, when we told you that the whole point of ‘pit bull’ bans had nothing to do with dogs at all but had to do with setting dangerous precedents which erode civil rights using a red herring so conveniently smoked by our noble watchdogs in the media and our two-faced liars in the animal rights movement, you laughed and said we were conspiracy theorists, just paranoid, lighten up, what’s on TV, what’s for lunch.
Yeah. Well. As my friend Jade says “It isn’t paranoia when they really ARE out to get you”.
And, my naive friends, present company excluded, they are definitely out to get you.