Free Markets, Free People
What part of the 4th Amendment does law enforcement not understand?
I don’t know about you, but this seems such a clear thing to me. If law enforcement is going to put any sort of a tracking device on a citizen’s vehicle, they need to obtain a warrant first. See 4th Amendment:
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled unanimously that the police violated the Constitution when they placed a Global Positioning System tracking device on a suspect’s car and monitored its movements for 28 days.
Walter Dellinger, a lawyer for the defendant in the case and a former acting United States solicitor general, said the decision was “a signal event in Fourth Amendment history.”
“Law enforcement is now on notice,” Mr. Dellinger said, “that almost any use of GPS electronic surveillance of a citizen’s movement will be legally questionable unless a warrant is obtained in advance.”
“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’ ” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion.
“It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case,” Justice Scalia went on. “The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted.”
The government, in this case, had put a GPS device on the target’s vehicle without a warrant, monitored it for 28 days and then used that information at his trial (he was convicted on cocaine trafficking charges and given a life sentence).
The reason I think this should have been a no-brainer for LEOs is the fact that the SCOTUS decision was unanimous.
When the case was argued in November, a lawyer for the federal government said the number of times the federal authorities used GPS devices to track suspects was “in the low thousands annually.”
Vernon Herron, a former Maryland state trooper now on the staff of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, said state and local law enforcement officials used GPS and similar devices “all the time,” adding that “this type of technology is very useful for narcotics and terrorism investigations.”
Monday’s decision thus places a significant burden on widely used law enforcement surveillance techniques, though the authorities remain free to seek warrants from judges authorizing the surveillance.
Ok, get a freaking warrant first.
What this decision does is uphold a Constitutional right that has been under assault for quite some times. The “envelope stretching” that is not uncommon as new technology offers new methods of surveillance and monitoring. The watchword for LEOs should be “when in doubt, get a warrant”. And live by the document you’ve sworn to uphold and defend.