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Discussion Starter #1
So here’s the thing: Now that I’m living aboard, I have a heightened awareness of the fact that boaters lose one of their civil rights the moment they board their own vessel.

I’m aware of the fact that the USCG derives their authority to board any vessel at any time - for any reason or no reason at all - from the Constitution, and that the Federal courts have solidified their position on this.

However, I’d like to discuss several points that appear to have escaped most people:

1) The Constitution was written in the late 18th century, when almost no one in the world had a private vessel upon which they could live full-time. How is it that with mass-produced, small fiberglass boats clogging up the waterways and a significant amount of people living on their boats, we haven’t thought to update that?

2) Doesn’t the Bill of Rights trump anything else? They are proscriptions against government activity which guarantee every person within the jurisdiction of the United States a specific set of freedoms, regardless of the desires of the State.

3) For those of you who say “Who cares? I’m not doing anything wrong,” I would argue that that’s besides the point. Would you invite a complete stranger onto your boat with the explicit goal of arbitrarily rummaging through all of your belongings, without any authority to stop them should they abuse their power? And let’s not forget that USCG personnel are fallible human beings who may decide that they don’t like you for whatever reason, and turn your boat upside down just to screw you over. The Bill of Rights was written by men who had first-hand experience with a tyrannical government, and they created it to make sure that no American ever had to worry about living under the boots of of tyranny.

4) For those of who say “but we have to allow them to board our boats so they can check for drug traffickers and/or illegal immigrants,” I would argue that the police would LOVE to have the same authority on land, and they would be happy to use that very same excuse in order to invade our privacy and destroy/steal our property.

Anyway, I’d like to hear what everybody else thinks, and maybe start to formulate a plan to remedy this problem. I’m looking forward to seeing what everybody thinks.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Dude - this was known by me before I bought my boat, and if you had done your homework you would have known this before you bought your boat. Just as the cops have the right to pull you over in your car on the highway, the USCG has the right to stop and inspect your vessel. The difference is that the USCG can do it at any time and without any reason. The local cops MUST have a USCG officer aboard to board your vessel without probable cause. Dems da rulz. I don't want to get into a discussion about this; it is what it is - and it has been this way for a LOOOOONG time. Deal with it, or get rid of your boat.

BTW - Welcome to my ignore list. Yes - I am getting old and impatient with noobz trolling us. Deal with that too.... or not... I don't care. Unsubscribing from this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dude - this was known by me before I bought my boat, and if you had done your homework you would have known this before you bought your boat. Just as the cops have the right to pull you over in your car on the highway, the USCG has the right to stop and inspect your vessel. The difference is that the USCG can do it at any time and without any reason. The local cops MUST have a USCG officer aboard to board your vessel without probable cause. Dems da rulz. I don't want to get into a discussion about this; it is what it is - and it has been this way for a LOOOOONG time. Deal with it, or get rid of your boat.

BTW - Welcome to my ignore list. Yes - I am getting old and impatient with noobz. Deal with that too.... or not... I don't care. Unsubscribing from this thread.
Wow. He seems like a stable individual. :|

Anyway, for the benefit of anybody else who may be thinking the same thing, I am a civil rights activist. I have been fully aware of the USCG’s boarding authority for decades, but it has not personally affected me until now, and I’ve been busy fighting for 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.

I’m not a fan of the “it’s what’s been done all along” frame of mind. Just because the government has been violating people’s basic, fundamental human right to be secure in their property while on boats for a long time doesn’t mean it’s right. If everybody thought that way, slavery would still be legal, women wouldn’t have any rights, and neither would LGBTQ people.

I’m of the opinion that laws should be updated to reflect modern technologies, and I personally think this one is LOOOOOOOOOONG overdue.
 

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I studied this a while ago and figured out that is comes down to a vague term in the 4th amendment. This term is "unreasonable". In your house, a warrant is issued by a judge to grant permission to search. The assumption is that since a boat is mobile, it is reasonable to initiate a search without a warrant. The problem with this is that the term unreasonable is applied from the government's standpoint, not the citizen's standpoint. The misuse of this perspective has allowed the government to make the determination as to what is reasonable and what is not. This means the criteria for reasonable is based on the government's perceived need, not the citizen's convenience. Fortunately, the definition for what is reasonable has evolved into a well defined set of rules - probable cause, a judge issued warrant ect. It matters not that these rules are applied consistently in all circumstances, because the definition of reasonable is based on the government's need.
My personal opinion is that the Bill of Rights centers around the citizen, not the government. Therefore I believe many aspects of the Bill of Rights have been misconstrued. I've never been stopped on my boat, but if I am ever stopped, I would let the officer know that while I will not physically interfere, I do not grant permission to board. I believe you lose rights you don't defend.
 

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It’s not a human right to own a boat. It’s not a human right to prevent inspection. It’s just something people really, really want. If you want it so bad, vote for someone who is willing to create a new constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is reasonable to search a boat. The 4th amendment does prohibit any search, it only prohibits unreasonable ones. Totally settled that our laws consider boat searches reasonable. You’re rights aren’t being violated, you don’t have that right. You just really want it.
 

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It's more like a border crossing than a traffic stop. You can be inspected every time you cross a border. Since a boat can cross borders so easily, they are treated as such. That is the genesis of the law, from the days of the revenue cutters. It still makes sense today.
 

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It’s not a human right to own a boat. .... You’re rights aren’t being violated, you don’t have that right. You just really want it.
It is not a human right to own a car either. Its not a human right to own a house, but my boat could be my house.

I only sail on inland lakes. There are no boarders, so the rules that apply to boarder patrol do not apply to inland lakes. A boat has no greater mobility or limitation than my car does. From a pursuit standpoint, there is absolutely no difference between my boat and a car.

Even Lake Michigan has no foreign boarders. The only boarder that has lake access is Lake Huron. It would take much longer for me to get to a foreign boarder in my boat than it would for me to drive from Chicago to Canada, yet no boarder patrol stops and searches my car in Chicago.

One other issue is that cops can stop you for a safety inspection, as long as the inspection is random. However the cop never has the right to "board" your car. So while it would be legal for the Coast Guard to perform a safety inspection, it is not legal for them to board the board, as there is no part of the inspection that could not be performed from the exterior of the boat.
 

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I understand how you compare the two, but the law does not. They are separately defined rights. Simple. You’re not required to like it. You are welcome to advocate for a new constitutional amendment, but that’s all that will change this.
 

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I understand how you compare the two, but the law does not. They are separately defined rights. Simple. You’re not required to like it. You are welcome to advocate for a new constitutional amendment, but that’s all that will change this.
It wouldn't take a constitutional amendment, but likely would take an Act of Congress (i.e., a new federal statute amending the original 1790 revenue law) -- at least to address the issue of random suspicionless searches by the Coast Guard. And, personally, I feel there's good reason for such an amendment, although little hope of ever seeing one. In 1790, virtually all vessels were military and merchants; hardly any were recreational vessels, so clearly the intent of the law was aimed at those merchant vessels, at a time before the CG even existed.

Keep in mind that state/local cops are not authorized for suspicionless boardings under the same 1790 federal law. State/local cops operate under an entirely different set of rules. Some states have enacted state laws allowing such boardings, and undoubtedly many of those laws DO run afoul of fourth amendment rights, as well as state constitutional rights, but the problem is that no one ever challenges these boardings in court due to the time and expense involved.
 

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I resent the government searching my vessel on Lake Michigan. I see nothing "reasonable" about it. This isn't the first time I've disagreed with the supreme court.

Furthermore, I don't agree with them checking my safety equipment. As a free citizen, it's my life, and I should have the right to protect it or squander as I see fit. I see no reason for the government to require I purchase safety equipment and have it onboard. Red, green, and white lights on the boat at night?....sure, as that involves the safety of others. But it's none of their business if I don't want to have a lifejacket onboard. Always err on the side of freedom.
 

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I’ve been boarded multiple times. Usually when re-entering the country. No biggie. Only time I objected to a boarding was on a short daysail from Bristol R.I. to Barrington. Had non sailors on board and only me to run the boat. Wanted to beat out weather and was boarded almost immediately after raising anchor. Took overly long so asked them to leave. Turns out two of them were instructing the others on how to conduct a boarding. I told them as captain I had the right to not allow this bunch of 20 somethings to endanger my boat or crew. Explained T storms were predicted in a few hours and wanted to be safely in my home slip well before that. Eventually they got the message and left. Subsequently was told they acted improperly. Shouldn’t have been boarded and if felt necessary should’ve been done very quickly as to not impede me in finding a safe berth before weather hit. The prolonged instruction was not appropriate to the setting. BTW we did beat out the weather without issue. My guests got a soaking getting up the docks to their cars however.
So you do have some rights. International maritime law allows you to not be forced into unseamanlike behavior or be forced to do something that places your boat or crew at risk. You do have a leg to stand on as by being the captain it’s recognized you are the judge of potential risk and can voice your fears. Another example of this was on a different boarding. Was approached by a steel or Aluminum cutter (couldn’t tell but suspected it was steel as everything had paint on it) and asked to hove to. I complied but I asked I be boarded by a RIB as a sea was running and I was worried about damage to my boat. They were very polite and concurred without issue.
CG is a tough duty on many coasts. Respect that and am always polite. However, in the lower grades suspect there are newbies with limited understanding of the sea and boats. Given the unlimited power to board on occasion it is abused.
 

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Being a liveaboard is not like owning a house. There is no comparison for discussion.

You don’t pay any taxes. You don’t support the infrastructure of the community. You have made that choice knowing that the CG can board you at anytime. You aren’t required to live like that. If you don’t like it either buy a house or work for change through the process available to you. In doing that you won’t have my vote
 

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I resent the government searching my vessel on Lake Michigan. I see nothing "reasonable" about it. This isn't the first time I've disagreed with the supreme court.

Furthermore, I don't agree with them checking my safety equipment. As a free citizen, it's my life, and I should have the right to protect it or squander as I see fit. I see no reason for the government to require I purchase safety equipment and have it onboard. Red, green, and white lights on the boat at night?....sure, as that involves the safety of others. But it's none of their business if I don't want to have a lifejacket onboard. Always err on the side of freedom.
The it’s ok if I tell you feel free to not buy that stuff, however don’t call the taxpayer funded CG to rescue you or put their life on the line because you choose to not have safety equipment required.

I am certainly no Trumpofile, but how do we know you are not smuggling illegals or terrorists across the boarder if they don’t have the right to board you don’t you think that leaves a loophole.
 

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I understand how you compare the two, but the law does not. They are separately defined rights. Simple. You’re not required to like it. You are welcome to advocate for a new constitutional amendment, but that’s all that will change this.
I don't see boats, cars or houses mentioned in the constitution. Not sure how you can make an argument that they are separately defined rights, when they are not even enumerated. I have yet to here any specific argument that can specifically identify why a boat on an inland lake is constitutionally different than a car.
 

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I don't see boats, cars or houses mentioned in the constitution. Not sure how you can make an argument that they are separately defined rights, when they are not even enumerated. I have yet to here any specific argument that can specifically identify why a boat on an inland lake is constitutionally different than a car.
In the case of the Great Lakes (which we are discussing, I believe) it is because they are not the inland waters of the US. They contain international waters. Same with the Puget Sound. Very different from a farmer's pond.

The way I see it, as soon as you move into waters that are reasonably connected to international waters, it is like going through customs, whether or not you are technically in international waters. You could be coming or going, and thus are subject to search. If you are not OK with that... stay on shore.
 

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As was mentioned earlier; because SCOTUS says so.
Here are a few other things that SCOTUS has said over the years.

1. Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857): Hands down the worst Supreme Court decision ever, Dred Scott held that African Americans, whether free men or slaves, could not be considered American citizens. The ruling undid the Missouri Compromise, barred laws that would free slaves, and all but guaranteed that there would be no political solution to slavery. The opinion even included a ridiculous "parade of horribles" that would appear if Scott were recognized as a citizen, unspeakable scenarios like African Americans being able to vacation, hold public meetings, and exercise their free speech rights.

2. Buck v. Bell (1927): "Eugenics? Yes, please!" the Court declared in this terrible decision which still stands as good law. In an 8-1 decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Court upheld the forced sterilization of those with intellectual disabilities "for the protection and health of the state." Justice Holmes ruled that "society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind" and ended the opinion by declaring that "three generations of imbeciles are enough."

3. Korematsu v. United States (1944): Here, the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, finding that the need to protect against espionage outweighed the individual rights of American citizens. In a cruel and ironic twist, this was also the first time the Court applied strict scrutiny to racial discrimination by the U.S. government, belying the idea that strict scrutiny is "strict in theory, fatal in fact."

4. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): The Court's famous "separate but equal" ruling upheld state segregation laws. In doing so, the Court made sure that the gains of the post-Civil War reconstruction era were quickly replaced by decades of Jim Crow laws.

5. The Civil Rights Cases (1883): Another testament to the Court's failure to protect civil rights, the Civil Rights Cases struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875. That law sought to ban racial discrimination in businesses and public accommodations. The court, in an 8-1 decision, held that the enforcement provisions of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments do not allow Congress to prevent non-governmental racial discrimination. It would take over 80 years for the Court to switch course, allowing for the government protection of civil rights in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S -- this time under the Commerce Clause.

6. Bowers v. Hardwick (1986): This decision upheld a discriminatory Georgia sodomy statute that criminalized sexually active gay and lesbian relationships. As Justice Harry Blackmun noted in his dissent, the majority opinion displayed "an almost obsessive focus on homosexual activity." Bowers was overruled in 2003 by Lawrence v. Texas, though unconstitutional anti-sodomy laws still exist in several states.

7. The Grand Daddy Faux Pa which shows just how political SCOTUS really is :
Bush v. Gore (2000): You don't have to be a Democrat to question the wisdom of this Supreme Court case. In a partisan split, the Supreme Court's five Republican appointees halted the recount of contested ballots in Florida, handing the election to George W. Bush. Even Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has come to regret the ruling.

Sorry Dude the SCOTUS argument don't hold water.
 

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I don't see boats, cars or houses mentioned in the constitution. Not sure how you can make an argument that they are separately defined rights, when they are not even enumerated. I have yet to here any specific argument that can specifically identify why a boat on an inland lake is constitutionally different than a car.
That’s why there is Judicial branch of government. They aren’t any more perfect than any of the rest of us, but they are defined to sort this out and they have. There role is to interpret law, not write it. Many decisions are overridden, when laws are changed. They aren’t to blame for that. You can tell by this thread alone that not everyone finds it all that egregious, so it will be a steep hill to climb to get it changed now.

The difference is smuggling to an unlimited, unrestricted shoreline. Very different from a stationary house and road system. Exclude recreational boats and smugglers are happy to adapt.

You’re welcome to feel how you feel, but lobby the Congress. *****ing here is only cathartic, at best.
 
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