10 Weird Things the Government Actually Has the Power to Do

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There are a million and one conspiracy theories out there, but if you’re someone who rolls your eyes at them, well, you might be surprised that there is something to the idea that the government has unlimited powers.

Okay, fine, not unlimited, but I bet you didn’t know they had the ability to do these 10 strange things, no questions asked.

10. Read your emails.

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Under the rationale of obtaining information about potential threats, U.S. Intelligence agencies are allowed to collect your email communications if you’re a foreigner living in the States. The law can, however, extend to all Americans (in theory).

9. Force you to sell your home.

If the government deems the sale of your property necessary, they can claim “eminent domain” and force you to sell. The Fifth Amendment gives them the right, if you’re curious.

8. Hide the truth.

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Any citizen can request access to federal agency records through the Freedom of Information Act…unless those records are protected. Protected records include some law enforcement files, foreign policy details, information regarding bank supervision, trade secrets, and a lot more.

Basically, it’s why we (the people) still don’t know for sure who killed JFK.

7. Seize your assets (without forking over compensation).

Civil asset forfeiture laws let the police take your stuff and keep it indefinitely – all they have to do is say they believe it was involved in a crime. It’s actually a pretty serious problem.

6. Jail you if your kid misses school.

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The state of Maryland has a law on the books called the Truancy Law of Maryland, and it lets police toss you in jail if your under-16 cuts class on the regular.

5. Go through your trash.

Attorney Randolph Rice says that this 1988 Supreme Court case proves that your trash – even before its collected – isn’t protected by the Fourth Amendment…so watch what you throw away.

4. Pressure your state to conform.

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Sure, states have rights, but the feds can enact a federal law that trumps your state’s decision, and then punish your state for being out of compliance. For example, when the federal drinking age was set to 21, they threatened states with the loss of federal highway funding if they didn’t follow suit and change their laws at the state level as well.

3. Stop you from driving.

If you’ve got a DUI on your record, the authorities could force you to install a device in your car that detects your blood-alcohol level. If you don’t blow in it, or you fail, your car won’t start.

2. Shut down the country.

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If Congress and the President can’t agree on a budget the government shuts down, which means national parks, monuments, and museums are (supposed to be) closed. This could affect you even more directly if you’re waiting on something like a passport or a tax return.

1. Remove your right to vote.

In most states, convicted felons aren’t allowed to vote while incarcerated, and a few states carry the law through your time spent on parole or probation, too. If you’re convicted of a federal crime, you could lose the right permanently.

I mean, I’m not off to buy a tinfoil hat (yet), but consider me at least a little bit shook.

Were you aware of these? Are there more? Let us know what you think in the comments!