SCOTUS: Warrantless GPS Tracking a Search Under 4th Amendment.

You can buy this doormat at Target .com for $18.99. I did.

Today in SCOTUS news, an apparent victory for privacy advocates and those who’d prefer to protect our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizure.

As the AP reports:

The GPS device helped authorities link Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before the appeals court overturned the conviction.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said that the government’s installation of a GPS device, and its use to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search, meaning that a warrant is required.

“By attaching the device to the Jeep” that Jones was using, “officers encroached on a protected area,” Scalia wrote.

All nine justices agreed that the placement of the GPS on the Jeep violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.…

Justice Samuel Alito also wrote a concurring opinion in which he said the court should have gone further and dealt with GPS tracking of wireless devices, like mobile phones. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

From the little I’ve read about the ruling, it seems like the majority, under Scalia, drew a physical distinction whereas Alito drew a more theoretical line. I look forward to reading a gander at the full opinion.

It’s always a good day for me when the SCOTUS upholds our rights to be free from unreasonable state intrusion in an era when so much government is champing at the bit to take those rights away.

Read move over at NPR’s site and and listen to Nina Totenberg’s take on the matter.

Update [12.50]: Here’s a link to the Jones opinion.

Update [16.34]: Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy has some thoughts about the case.

Update [18.34]: My former criminal procedure professor Donald Tibbs has some thoughts that were picked up by AP

The Supreme Court’s decision is an important one because it sends a message that technological advances cannot outpace the American Constitution…. The people will retain certain rights even when technology changes how the police are able to conduct their investigations.

One Response to SCOTUS: Warrantless GPS Tracking a Search Under 4th Amendment.

  1. shg says:

    Tibbs is a funny name. His comment to the AP isn’t that funny. On the bright side, he got his name in the paper, even if someone out there is stupider for it.

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