Monday, July 20, 2015
Nanny State of the Week: Lawsuit challenges Seattle trash snooping
If the cops in Seattle want to dig through a city resident’s garbage to look for evidence of a crime, they have to go get a warrant first.
But garbage collectors in Seattle are not only allowed to dig through the trash without a judge’s consent, they’re actually required to do so.
Seattle is on the cutting edge of nanny state-ism with a new citywide ban on throwing any compostable material into the trash, no matter how gross, smelly or disgusting it might be. The city government is serious about this — so serious that they have deputized the trashmen as a sort of secret police who are being ordered to rat on residents’ trash habits to the nannies at Seattle Public Utilities.
If this sounds like an arrangement that violates a whole bunch of amendments to the U.S. Constitution (and the Washington State Constitution too, in the event you’re familiar with it), well, you’re not alone.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm that loves challenging ridiculous government regulations like this one, filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a state judge to shut down the Seattle trash-snooping program.
“While it’s laudable to encourage recycling and composting, the city is going about it in a way that trashes the privacy rights of each and every person in Seattle,” said Brian Hodges, managing attorney for PLF’s Pacific Northwest Center, based in suburban Seattle.
According to the Seattle Times, city officials declined to comment on the lawsuit and said Thursday they were still reviewing it.
The ban on food waste, which we’ve covered in this space before, requires garbage collectors to search through the contents of garbage cans (and you thought being a garbage collector was bad enough already) and to report violations to Seattle Public Utilities, the bureaucratic entity that imposed the ban and will soon begin issuing fines for violations.