Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the Court held that bringing a drug dog onto the curtilage of a house constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. This seems like common sense, but given the Court’s sui generis treatment of drug dogs in the past, it wasn’t actually a slam dunk.
Scalia wrote for the majority (and was joined by Thomas, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan), and though I haven’t yet read the opinion, the reasoning seems like it should follow pretty clearly from his opinion in Kyllo. Scalia relied in part on the reasoning used in last year’s GPS case.
Best line (seen excerpted elsewhere):
We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U. S. 622, 626 (1951). This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. [emphasis added]
The Court then held today that the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties–any activity in the scope of their duties, not merely investigation or law enforcement. I don’t know anything about the FTCA, but anything that can help hold law enforcement accountable is a good thing, right?
Standard disclaimer: I’m just a law student. If you rely on anything I’ve said here, on your own head be it.
*Why, yes, I am cheering SCOTUS in a cryptically titled blog post. You probably thought this was going to be about gay marriage or DOMA.