Re: so Desperation
"The difference is that when such a sumbag's ext HDD is decrypted, they seemingly stand a good chance of being jailed. Whilst an honest ordinary upstanding member of society such as yourself wouldn't."
The defendant was being asked to testify against himself. I appreciate that the line between having to provide a key to a safe and having to provide a password to a hard drive appears fine but that is only when you approach it from the point of view of use, rather than source and format.
Ask yourself this - what if the police had access to a machine capable of reading information directly from someone's mind? It's a situation I've ranted on before but here it is particularly relevant. If such a device were to exist, should the police be able to employ it to force information from a defendant?
If you accept that a court should be able to force a defendant to turn over information in their mind, then it's hard to argue, logically, that a mind-reading device couldn't be used. After all, if the police are executing a legal warrant to search someone's house, no amount of refusal to let the police enter will stop them - they are allowed to use necessary force to execute that warrant.
Still, you might say that this is all okay with you because it would only be used on 'scumbags'. But who decides who is a 'scumbag' and who is an 'honest, ordinary, upstanding member of society'?
Sometimes it's hard to tell who gets to make that decision but, spoiler alert: it's not you. And it's certainly not me.
But let's say that it is decided that in certain cases, involving certain (alleged) crimes, the stakes are high enough to force people to reveal information contained in their mind that the authorities will then use as evidence against them.
Why not just force them to testify against themselves? After all, you've already admitted that it's okay to compel people to reveal information in their heads - information which is being sought for the express purpose of convicting that person.
What you then have is, effectively, a test on when the Fifth Amendment should and should not apply and who it should and should not apply to. Perhaps, even then, you are still defiantly sticking to your guns. But think of what that actually means . . .
It means that the Constitution - a document that expressly limits how the government may act and what laws it may make - can be ignored when the government wants.
In other words, it means that the government can make laws that restrict the constitution.
And make no mistake - the government would love to do this and we see it with First Amendment cases not infrequently. In such cases, the government makes a law that bans some type of behaviour - for example (and controversially) burning the flag. The courts then slap that down as unconstitutional.
In these cases, the government's line is not that the action isn't free expression of ideas, but that this particular idea should be considered especially problematic. The flaw in the government's arguments in these cases is that the First Amendment already contains exceptions and the proposed/enacted laws do not fall into those (narrow) spaces. Instead, the laws, effectively, try to add new exceptions to the constitution.
And that's just not how it works - the government of (e.g.) Texas, can't decided that the Constitution doesn't apply when it says it shouldn't.
This is the whole point of the Constitution - to set aside some laws and rights and protections and restrictions that cannot be easily overruled and ignored based on current political ideology or populist sentiment.