Today in Liberty: IRS scandal is worse than we imagined; SCOTUS issues big win for cell phone privacy

“Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.” — Chief Justice John Roberts

— Oh, wow, the IRS scandal just got a lot worse: Emails released by the House Ways and Means Committee reveal that disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner targeted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), referring him to the agency for examination. “We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said in a press release. “At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights.  We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal. The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.” Basically, Lerner received an invitation to an event that was intended for Grassley, and it looks like Grassley received hers. The group sponsoring the event, the name of which was redacted, offered to pay for his wife to come along. Lerner suggested that it was inappropriate and wrote: “Perhaps we should refer to Exam?”

— Big win for cell phone privacy: The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that police have to get a warrant before they search a suspect’s cell phone. “In a sweeping opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts resoundingly rejected arguments that searches of digital devices for information are comparable to searches law enforcement officers often conduct for contraband after making an arrest,” Politico explains. “The chief justice went even further, arguing that the privacy concerns at stake in the search of a phone are even more acute than those involved in the search of a home — the place traditionally considered most sacrosanct under American law.” The consolidated opinion in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie is available here. It’s hard to say what implications this opinion has for bigger invasions of privacy, like NSA spying, for example. But the opinion did make mention of Smith v. Maryland (1979), which has served as the legal precedent for bulk data collection, while rejecting the federal government’s argument.

— The Military Industrial Complex wants Democrats to hold the Senate. The ‘why’ might shock you: Perpetual war is a lucrative business. The United States spends more on “defense” than the next eight countries combined. That means millions of dollars flow annually into the hands of defense contractors, who in turn spend money on elections. But the defense industry seems a little queasy about the prospect of Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, but not for the reasons one might think. For libertarians and non-interventionists, Chairman McCain represents a brash and aggressive foreign policy that could commit troops and resources to old wars and new adventures. But defense contractors are concerned McCain’s desire to cut out-dated programs will stop the defense gravy train. That’s why defense industry PACs have given more than $115,000 to Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed, who will likely succeed current Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin if Democrats hold the Senate. Conversely, defense PACs have only given $9.000 to McCain.

— EPA employees have been asked to stop defecating in hallways. No, seriously: The Washington Times is out with a rather odd report from a Region 8 (Denver) office of the Environmental Protection Agency. According to internal emails from management officials, an EPA employee (or employees, perhaps) has been clogging up toilets with paper towels and “placing feces in the hallway” near the bathroom. One might expect this sort of behavior from Kindergarteners. On a related note, archaeologists in Spain belive they have discovered the “world’s oldest human poop.” The ancient feces seems to suggest Neanderthals from 50,000 years ago were omnivores. Scientists previously thought they just subsisted off hunks of meat. The more important question is, is this 50,000 year old poop proof EPA agents have been leaving their number twos scattered around a lot longer than than EPA managers originally thought?

— More missing emails, this time at the EPA: The IRS isn’t the only federal agency that has lost emails sought by congressional investigators due to faulty hard drives. “The environmental agency is having trouble locating emails belonging to a former agency employee and pulling information from his crashed hard drive, House [Oversight and Government Reform Committee] members revealed Wednesday while questioning Administrator Gina McCarthy at a hearing on complaints of mismanagement,” Politico reports. “The committee has tried to reach the employee in question, who McCarthy said previously resided in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula but has since relocated to New Zealand.” Oh, how convenient.

— Here’s a fact about winter and the economy: The Obama administration and its apologists are blaming a brutal winter for the 2.9 percent economic contraction in the first quarter of 2014. But, via Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pointed out that harsh winters don’t necessarily mean that the economy will sputter along.

Ian Tuttle explains that “[t]he winter of 1984–85 was indeed bitterly cold — from January 20 to 22, 1985, the U.S. suffered a polar vortex like the one seen this past winter. In fact, according to NOAA, February 1985 was the most recent month in history with temperatures below the 20th-century average by the measurements they take across land and ocean surfaces.” Maybe, just maybe, the economy isn’t growing because of the policies this White House has forced on Americans. That seems to be a common sense answer to the question, but blame-shifting is what President Obama is best at.

— Conservative columnist pans Boehner’s lawsuit against Obama: Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. assistant attorney and columnist at National Review knocked House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s illegal executive actions. “Speaker Boehner’s office has just released a memorandum explaining the lawsuit strategy. It is an amazing document. It makes a strong case for a decisive legislative response to President Obama’s systematic assault on the separation of powers. Yet it recommends no such response,” McCarthy writes. “Rather, it falsely claims that Congress is impotent to challenge the executive onslaught, and finally proposes to confront the president’s disregard for our constitutional order with its own reciprocal disregard.” McCarthy just released a book in which he presents the “political case for Obama’s impeachment.” He blasted some of the arguments made at the end of the memo, writing that “[e]verything asserted here is either untrue or abject nonsense.”

— Chris McDaniel hasn’t surrendered: The conservative challenger who lost on Tuesday night to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a heated runoff doesn’t plan to concede just yet. “In the coming days, our team will look into the irregularities to determine whether a challenge is warranted,” McDaniel said, according to National Review. “After we’ve examined the data, we will make a decision about whether and how to proceed.” The irregularities he mentioned deal with Cochran’s efforts to get voters — and most of the efforts were directed at black voters — who didn’t cast ballots in the June 3 primary to vote in the runoff. But a quirk in Mississippi election law prohibits voters from crossing over in a primary if they don’t intend to vote for the nominee in the fall. That’s sort of unenforceable, not to mention that it could be used by Democrats to say that Republicans — or more specifically, the Tea Party — want to stop minorities from voting.

— Hillary Clinton’s millions: While the former First Lady and Secretary of State is trying to score some points with populist voters by claiming that her family was broke when they left the White House in 2001, the truth is that she’s earned millions by getting cozy with big business. “She has accumulated an estimated $4.2 million in fees from just twelve speeches to big corporations and industry groups, including such Wall Street giants as Goldman Sachs (twice). Clinton has addressed, among others, private-equity managers, business executives, real estate brokers, and car dealers,” Celina Durgin writes at National Review. “Clinton’s total paycheck from her most recent round on the speaking circuit, which lasted from April 2013 to June 2014, would total around $5 million, not including those speaking fees for venues that wouldn’t disclose how much they paid her.” Durgin, by the way, points out that Clinton’s total net-worth is somewhere around $50 million. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with using your name to make a living, but don’t try to pass yourself off as someone who can sympathize with the middle class.

— Obama’s Alinsky training may be key in his last two years as President: Conservatives probably still bristle whenever Sean Hannity utters “Saul Alinsky” into the camera or whenever Rush Limbaugh conjures his image over the Golden EIB Microphone, but the fact of the matter is political technology is philosophically neutral. More conservatives should be employing Alinsky’s tactics against President Obama and the Left. Alinsky’s Rule 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” In recent weeks, President Obama has set his sights on global warming skeptics, and POLITICO has taken notice. The fact of the matter is, this technique will likely work against conservatives and as a way to swing independents into support for big government environmentalist policies. Buy a copy of Alinsky’s book here.

Other items we’re reading this morning:

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