United States vs. Jones

It appears the United States Supreme Court does in fact recognize the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. My faith is revived.

In United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. __ (2012), the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that law enforcement officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they attached a GPS device to Antoine Jones’ car and collected data on his whereabouts for 28 days. Jones was under suspicion for trafficking and conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Although law enforcement officers had a warrant to attach the GPS device, the warrant expired before the device was attached and the officers attached it to Jones’ vehicle in a jurisdiction not covered by the warrant. In effect, the officers attached the GPS device without a warrant.

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the law enforcement officers violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Remember, the Fourth Amendment protects “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” from unreasonable searches and seizures. The majority – Justice Scalia (author), Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas, and Justice Sotomayor – decided that physically installing a GPS device on someone’s car and using it to monitor movements is a “search.” However, the majority left the door open for future issues relating to a person’s expectation of privacy in a highly digital world, including whether a warrant is always required in GPS cases.

To read the Court’s opinion, click here: United States v. Jones.