Washington Legislature Bans State Agencies From Releasing Personal Info To Federal Government And Threatens Individuals In Order To Protect Their Fourth Amendment Rights

Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Contributor

Washington Legislative BuildingThe Washington State House of Representatives have crafted House Bill 2272 titled “The Fourth Amendment protection act” with the purported purpose of protecting state citizens from unwarranted collection of data that is provided to various agencies of the United States government without a search warrant. The act includes provisions that allow for a citizen to be arrested for complying with the U.S. government and sanctions local agencies and employees with even harsher penalties. One has to wonder which is a greater threat to individual liberty, the actions of the federal agencies targeted or this potential state law.

What could in fact be an analogue and extension of the U.S. Senate Bill 1037 titled the “Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act of 2013”, the text of which can be found HERE the Washington State bill provides criminal sanctions and penalties against others who comply with federal demands for information or assistance for providing this information without a search warrant.

The federal bill provides essentially the federal or state governments may not collect personal information without express informed consent of the person identified or through a search warrant. It reads, in pertinent part:

In General.–Except as provided in subsection (b), the Federal Government and a State or local government is prohibited from obtaining or seeking to obtain information relating to an individual or group of individuals held by a third-party in a system of records, and no such information shall be admissible in a criminal prosecution in a court of law.

Section (b) refers to the informed consent and search warrant requirements.

The Washington House Bill goes far beyond this restriction on the federal and state governments and includes everyone else. The policy statement declares:

It is the policy of this state to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place, and thing to be searched or seized.

Beyond this the bill limits providing material support to any federal agency that engages in practices the State of Washington would consider unlawful, such as:

  • Utilize any assets, state funds, or funds allocated by the state to local entities;
  • Provide services, or participate or assist in any way with the providing of services;
  • Use any information in a criminal investigation or prosecution.

The punishment section of the bill includes the following provisions, in pertinent part:

  • A political subdivision of this state may not receive state grant funds if the political subdivision adopts a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the political subdivision violates section 3 of this act;
  • Any agent or employee of this state or of any political subdivision of this state who knowingly violates the prohibitions in section 3 of this act is deemed to have resigned any commission from the state of Washington which he or she may possess, his or her office is deemed vacant and he or she is forever ineligible to any office of trust, honor, or emolument under the laws of this state;
  • Any corporation or person that provides services to or on behalf of this state and violates the prohibitions of section 3 of this act is forever ineligible to act on behalf of, or provide services to, this state or any political subdivision of this state;
  • Any officer, employee, or agent, of this state or of any political subdivision of this state who knowingly violates the prohibitions in section 3 of this act is guilty of a gross misdemeanor;
  • Any corporation or person providing services to or on behalf of this state knowing that the provision violates the prohibitions in section 3 of this act is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The sanctioned services provided can essentially mean anything. If a state entity, such as the University of Washington, which does provide research to the NSA and other federal government agencies could, under this bill, lose all their state funding for providing research as innocuous as social sciences, electronic research relating to power cells, or even medical consultation services for government employees. Plus, it would go as far as to punish public utilities for providing electricity or water, and even construction contractors and their employees constructing facilities for these government agencies. An electronics supplier of gadgets would also be subject to sanction. Moreover they would be banned from ever receiving a contract to engage in state bids for contracts.

Bill of RightsIndividuals who reside in the state who are employees of these agencies or independent contractors are subject to arrest as are employees of local agencies, who are punished greater, simply for performing the duties of their jobs. Elected officials are automatically forced out of office and banned from being elected to office in the future.

There is also a civil action paragraph to recover damages.

Here is a similar blue law on the books in Washington:

Under Chapter 9.81 RCW (Subversive Activities) a law originating from 1951, those persons being a member of what the state considers to be a Subversive Organization, the only one listed in law is the Communist Party, are ineligible for holding public office, employment, or voting and they are subject to being arrested for a felony. Now, under 2272, anyone assisting a federal agency the state law considers to be engaged in violating the Fourth Amendment, they are treated in a similar manner.

Often times beyond just providing material support individual citizens are now the ones restrained by the Fourth Amendment not just governments or government agents. Citizens are subject to arrest with no qualified immunity that law enforcement officers can be protected by. Simply by obeying federal law, federal agency, or mandate puts individuals in jeopardy of arrest by state operatives.

Aside from the violations against what the legislative intent aims at the NSA, virtually any federal agency that keeps electronic records is subject to inclusion. This would include the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) department of Social and Health Services, etc. So could census workers, police records clerks, and DSHS employees be subjected to arrest?

The federal bill aforementioned essentially only prohibits government agencies from collecting data without informed consent or a search warrant. The state bill punishes everyone for ordinary commerce and compliance with federal mandates. Citizens would have to choose between being out of federal compliance or risk arrest.

Other states are considering legislation in some form of a similar nature. Is it really about constitutional rights or about theatrics in a showdown with the federal government?

So one has to wonder how the Washington Legislature can protect the constitutional rights of state citizens, by kicking people out of office, banning people from employment or contracting, and subjecting citizens to arrest.

What do you think?

Washington House Bill 2272 (PDF)
U.S. Senate Bill 1037
Chapter 9.81 Revised Code of Washington

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16 thoughts on “Washington Legislature Bans State Agencies From Releasing Personal Info To Federal Government And Threatens Individuals In Order To Protect Their Fourth Amendment Rights

  1. Well, I see the segregationists have moved up north and have converted the folks to nullification and states rights. I never thought I would live to see this kind of foolishness from northern folks.

  2. What do I think?
    I think it is a response to the overreach of the federal government’s presumption of access to private information without a search warrant. It appears to be directly in response to the revelations of Edward Snowden. And it shows the beginnings of some cajunas from a state government to limit federal violations of the Constitution.
    And I think the article’s jaundiced eye to this brave legislation is amazingly statist.

  3. I agree with Gary, some states are finally standing up to the Gross (GROSS) violation of the 4th amendment to our wonderful Constitution. Is this law good? Bad? I don’t know. Would it do all this article gives examples of? perhaps, I don;t know. I do believe (and now have at least one Federal judge on my side) that the collection of phone metadata is a violation of my 4th amendment right to not having my personal effects subject to search without a warrant. And yes, I do believe my metadata that I have a contract with a phone company to use is part of my personal effects.

  4. Maybe they are going too far, but reactions are by their nature prone to overreaction.

    In the meantime, good for Washington State.

    Sad when we have to rely on a state legislature to curb the abuses of the federal government.

    Used to be that the federal government was the voice of reason (remember Bull Connor et al ?); now the extremists are in the federal government.

  5. No problem here. At all. It’s already illegal to use governmental power (color of law) to violate our Constitutional rights. Sorry that the burden might fall on lower level state employees, but this is nothing new.

    Sure, rejection of the Nuremberg defense can cause some pressure on those who don’t deserve it, but these violations are blatant. And this a defensive weapon that good faith employees can use to do the job they’re hired to do: serve the public.

  6. The problem with this legislation is that it demonstrates the same sort of governmental overreach that the feds did with their unconstitutional surveillance programs. Knee-jerk legislation, whether done in the name of “promoting safety” or in the name of “protecting rights” invariably results in a host of unintended consequences, as people end up going to jail (or staying there for a much longer time) for reasons unanticipated by the original law. In the case of a law like this, it might very well be the people whose rights the Washington legislature is trying to protect. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, indeed, and a legislative firefight between the feds and the states is only going to end up with more innocent people getting burned.

  7. What do you think?” – Darren

    I am all for showing the government how sincere the people and states are about not letting them grind our rights under their boots.

    Why not give it a try on the banksters too?

  8. Headlines should match the story: The introduction of a bill doesn’t amount to action by the legislature, nothing has been banned so far.

  9. The water idea is a good one, however as an engineer, given such a constraint, I might figure out a was to do it with air cooling.

  10. Believe it or not…. Michigan did this last year…. And this is a heavily controlled republican state…..

  11. It might be a bit of an over-reaction, but I do think it is movement in the correct direction. This is probably in response not just to the NSA, but efforts by the DEA to mine Rx records for potential abusers & doctors who might be over-prescribing. Especially with WA & the new relaxing of of Marijuana criminality.

    Obama & Holder may have publicly told the DEA to back off of states that legalize pot, but either the DEA is ignoring them, or they are being told behind the scenes to keep at it.

  12. I’m not certain where anyone comes to the conclusion that the bill itself is providing for sanctions on private citizens in their individual capacity.

    If that were the case, I’d suggest that there is something to question.

    But in reading the legislation, it applies to state actors, in official capacity – which is certainly within the purview of the state to determine whether or not they’ll participate in federal acts or regulatory programs (see Anti-commandeering and Printz, for example)

    the legislation also includes a “knowingly” legal standard before someone could penalized for their actions.

    this is no low bar, as Mr Smith should know.

  13. The bills aims are a great idea, & I applaud all efforts at nullification/states rights are hugely needed. At this point there is virtually nothing the Fed doesn’t believe it can do. If they believe it may be illegal, the say it’s a matter of National Security & get virtually all challenges dismissed. The great concept of the chainsof the Constitution is completely eviscerated, the ideas of individual liberty and self reliance have been bent, twisted & subverted to the point of crisis in my opinion. However the author does have a point, the bill does seem to have strange language that puts far more people at risk then I think is intended. So I applaud the efforts at nullification as a final challenge to a leviathan, authoritarian government before a Constitutional crisis actually happens. Many states are trying to use it because the Fed has long since forgotten it’s proper role the protection of individual liberty and property, both of which now seem like quaint ideas to today’s professional fascists of both parties.

  14. more and more and it is beginning to seem that the only way to stop and correct the corporations abuse is to destroy it all and start from the beginning.. the bill sounds good on the outside but the main question is. will the po lie trickers and all their agencies listen? the obvious answer is no especially since they have been stealing trillions of dollars from the people for hundreds of years to bring their plans this far.. there is no way they are going to stop now……..

    the destruction of their underground bunkers ex the bunker under the detroit airport hasnt stopped that… snowden , manning, schoolcraft, donner, and others exposing them hasnt stopped them. they just tell more lies, kill off those who oppose them , and write more bills into laws to make the blinded believe there is someone on their side. meanwhile no one is doing anything.. if the federal government had any say so im sure they would have done so by now. the fact that it hasnt speaks for itself.. The truth of the matter is why they were keeping the people distracted with the pseudo distractions, scandals and so called terrorist attacks they were destroying every law, amendment, constitution, freedom and right we were born with and given without any interference.

    Not to say anyone is absolutely wrong but the truth of the matter is THEY ARE NOT GOING TO STOP. they are not going to enforce anything that will take their absolute power from them. and are totally prepared to re-educate/kill anyone not willing to be enslaved to them….

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