Agent Carter is back with all of its Hollywood vintage charm. Here are my first “legal” reactions to the season premier:
The SSR Knows How to Follow the Constitution
Chief Daniel Sousa and Peggy Carter actually get search warrants. God bless them for not outright walking over the rights of US Citizens (other than Sousa flirting to distract a receptionist while Peggy conducted an unlawful trespass to violate the Constitution, potentially making all information learned from Jason Wilkes the fruit of the poisonous tree, but we’ll overlook that one). In case anyone needs a refresher, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
USCS Const. Amend. 4.
The receptionist at Isodyne Energy acted properly in asking the SSR Agents if they had a search warrant at their first meeting. However, a frozen body that could freeze others, plus two SSR Agents murdered in a professional hit in order to steal the aforementioned body, would be ample “probable cause” for a Federal Judge to sign a search warrant. Chief Sousa would need to describe the Isodyne Energy facility to be searched, but that should not have been a problem.
National Security Act of 1947
The warning to Jack Thompson about the SSR becoming obsolete because of changes at the Department of War was absolutely correct. In the real world, the National Security Act of 1947 would create the Department of Defense in response to the new realities of the Cold War.
The FBI does have a strong claim that it would have jurisdiction over Dottie Underwood. Given the espionage aspects of who were her contacts in Russia gives a pretty valid claim to the SSR questioning Dottie, which would go from law enforcement to foreign affairs very quickly.
Senate Race of Calvin Chadwick
Calvin Chadwick is the poster child for Campaign Finance Reform. We do not want secret societies electing puppets to do their bidding, instead of the needs of the country. However, the first campaign finance reform cases were decades away from happening and 50 years before McCain-Feingold.
There is one significant challenge for Chadwick’s campaign: there was no US Senate race in California in 1948. Senator Sheridan Downey was reelected in 1944 (after defeating Fred Howser). Senator William F. Knowland had been appointed in 1945 and won a special election in 1946. The next election for the US Senate was in 1950, which then-Congressman Richard Nixon won.
It is possible Chadwick was running a high profile California Senate Campaign, which would have meant A LOT of money was being spent for a relatively small geographic area. It is possible a California businessman with a movie star wife could run in a different state, but that would inherently raise campaign issues, ranging from Chadwick being a “carpetbagger” to eligibility based on domicile.
A Crime Against Donuts
Peggy Carter took her anger out on a donut, violently throwing the tasty baked good onto the ground. We would call that littering in 2016. However, the world of 1947 was different. California cities from the early to mid-20th Century had ordnances prohibiting defacing public or private property with posters or notices on streets, sidewalks, and similar public places, which was a proper use of police power. See, Sieroty v. City of Huntington Park, (1931) 111 Cal. App. 377. However, these cases often focus on cities attempting to prohibit people from distributing flyers to others, which violated the First Amendment. People v. Taylor (1938) 33 Cal.App.2d Supp. 760, 762-763.
Statutes prohibiting littering, as we understand it today, started in California in the late 1970s. The law today states it is an infraction to litter on public or private property. Cal Pen Code § 374.4(a). Littering is the act of “the discarding, dropping, or scattering of small quantities of waste matter ordinarily carried on or about the person.” Cal Pen Code § 374.4(c). Throwing the donut in a wrapper would qualify under the California Penal Code. As such, if Agent Carter fans start throwing donuts on public or private property in a strange act of donut cosplay, they would run the risk of being fined at least $250 and community service to pick up litter. Cal Pen Code § 374.4(d)-(e). That would be one expensive donut and Hayley Atwell could end up doing PSA’s on proper donut disposal.