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Bonesteel v. City of Seattle: Pacific Legal Foundation Sues Seattle Bureaucrats Who Want to Snoop Through Your Trashcans

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“A person has a legitimate expectation that the contents of his or her garbage cans will remain private and free from government inspection.”

PLF sued the City of Seattle this morning in Bonesteel v. City of Seattle to challenge sweeping surveillance of residents and businesses. The City’s zeal for bumping its recycling rate bypassed constitutional boundaries when Seattle decided to have trash collectors and inspectors poke around for compostable contraband, such as pizza crusts, chicken bones, or those evil red velvet cakes.

Seattle-inspectors-unauthorized

Authorized? The Pacific Legal Foundation doesn’t think so.

The Washington State Constitution contains a robust right to privacy. The state Supreme Court has held that the state’s privacy right prohibits trash inspections without suspicion or a warrant. PLF’s complaint also challenges the composting mandate’s failure to provide any avenue to challenge the trash collector’s estimate that you throw out too much food. Regardless of its intentions, Seattle needs a reminder that composting doesn’t trump the Constitution.

“The law makes garbage collectors the judges and the juries.”

— Brian Hodges, Pacific Legal Foundation’s principal attorney

Check out the video below and the case web page to learn more.

For the Seattle Times reports:

Privacy advocates say Seattle is violating residents’ privacy “on a massive scale” by having garbage haulers look through people’s trash to make sure food scraps are going into the yard waste, not the garbage.

Privacy advocates say Seattle is violating residents’ privacy “on a massive scale” by having garbage haulers look through people’s trash to make sure food scraps are going into the yard waste, not the garbage.

A group of privacy advocates is suing the city of Seattle, arguing that having garbage collectors look through people’s trash — to make sure food scraps aren’t going into the garbage — “violates privacy rights on a massive scale.”

“A person has a legitimate expectation that the contents of his or her garbage cans will remain private and free from government inspection,” argues the lawsuit filed Thursday in King County Superior Court by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Since January, Seattle residents have been directed to place food scraps in the same bins as their yard waste, so that the material can be composted, instead of into garbage cans, where it would end up in a landfill. Read the rest of this entry »

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