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Supreme Court rules that GPS tracking of suspect requires a search warrant

Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Recent Cases - Comments Off

 

Supreme Court rules against secretly using GPS tracking devices without a search warrant.

Last year, TeenJury reported on United States v Jones, a case involving whether or not law enforcement agents need to obtain a search warrant before secretly attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s car.  Today, the Court unanimously held that search warrants are indeed required and that Mr. Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated.  The Fourth Amendment protects people against “unreasonable searches and seizures” until “probable cause” is established.  In the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia, the court held that the government cannot attach anything to the suspect’s car without a warrant as it is private property.  Justice Alito, in a concurring opinion, went further by concluding that the government cannot track a car “long-term” without a warrant, even if nothing was physically attached to the car.  In other words, the government would need a warrant for all tracking devices or methods.  Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsburg joined Alito’s opinion.  None of the justices felt that the government was allowed to track the suspect even though he was traveling on public roads.

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