“Checkpoint America”

“For over 60 years, the executive branch has, through regulatory fiat, imposed a ‘border zone’ that extends as much as 100 miles into the United States.” Within this zone, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service can set up fixed or mobile checkpoints that require travelers, whether foreign- or native-born, to stop and submit to questioning and possible search “to get to work, go to the store, or make it to a vacation destination in the American Southwest.” Were the government to try using these same techniques at frankly internal checkpoints — in Omaha, say, or Indianapolis or Cheyenne — a range of constitutional protections would come into play to limit police discretion and protect citizens’ rights to go about their business freely. But the border, or areas within 100 miles of it, are different. One problem: since the coasts count as borders too, an estimated two-thirds of the American public lives in areas that are just one executive decision away from having a checkpoint system.

The Cato Institute is launching a new online initiative, “Checkpoint America: Monitoring the Constitution-Free Zone.” Patrick G. Eddington explains in the Cato Daily Podcast above, and in this blog post.


  • Given the original 13, if they intended for the constitution not to be applicable in part or whole, don’t you think that they would have mentioned it? How much of the northeastern US is constitution free? And what if you happen to be within 100 miles of the border with this constitution free zone?

    • Calling it “constitution free” is a ridiculous stretch. All they do is set up traffic checkpoints, similar to how some cities set up sobriety checkpoints. They do it under strict guidelines from DHS attorneys, and have very limited criteria over whom they are allowed to search.

  • I’m sorry, sobriety checkpoint? Where is that mentioned in the constitution? I thought searches required probable cause? Since when is “he was driving down i-80 obeying all traffic laws” probable cause? Insert your favorite road in place of i-80 and keep in mind i’m blind and have found no state that would license me to drive… 😀 But if i’m not willing to speak up for your rights, how do I keep mine?