The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

In 1920, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. the United States. This case was to overturn the judgment of the District Court of the Western State of New York, which had made a judgment against the plaintiff based on secondary evidence. This secondary evidence had been gathered based on earlier evidence which had been gathered unlawfully; that is, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court overturned the earlier judgement, establishing a judicial precedent known as “The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine.” This title comes from the Book of Matthew 7:17-20, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

The idea is this: if evidence is gained in an illegal way (in this case, in violation of rights affirmed by the Fourth Amendment), then anything gained from that evidence is ALSO in violation of the law, and inadmissible. I bring this up because, as I am typing this, I am listening to politicians and pundits talk about how public opinion will change on the new health-insurance regulation legislation as people begin to see the “benefits” coming to them. These so-called benefits are nothing but “fruits of the poisonous tree,” in the most certain definition of the term: the bill itself is a direct violation of the Tenth Amendment; therefore, nothing associated with it can be considered a “benefit.” At best, they are bribes–paid not by the politicians who passed the legislation, but with money they have confiscated from other people’s work–to keep you a quiet subject rather than a full citizen under the Constitution.

UPDATE: Missouri has joined the joint lawsuit with 13 other States to repeal this legislation.

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