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.
I was curious about the genesis of the newest SCOTUS decision to come down the pipe, and you’ll be interested (leave me my delusions!) to know what I learned.
In the original case, U.S. v. Jones, Jones (who generally appears to be a misanthrope (not that that makes any difference to his civil rights)) moved to suppress evidence gathered when the police put a tracking device on his car and used it to see where he was going:
Jones also has moved to suppress the data obtained from an electronic tracking device-a Global Positioning System (“GPS”)-which law enforcement agents placed on his Jeep Cherokee pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Paul L. Friedman on September 16, 2005. In support of the motion, Jones advances two arguments. First, he contends that Special Agent Yanta’s affidavit in support of the application for GPS authorization lacked probable cause to believe that his vehicle “was in any manner being used for criminal activity.” (Def.’s Omnibus Mot. at 18.) Second, Jones asserts that the government placed the GPS device on his vehicle both after the Order authorizing its *88 placement had expired and while the vehicle was located outside of the issuing court’s jurisdiction.
Defendant Jones’ Supplemental Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion at 3-6.) In response, while conceding the “technical” violations of the September 10, 2005 Order (Gov’t's Omnibus Opp’n at 52 n. 12), the government contends that the placement of the GPS device was proper-“even in the complete absence of a court order”-because Jones lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle.
U.S. v. Jones, 451 F. Supp. 2d 71, 87-88 (D.D.C. 2006) aff’d in part, rev’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010) aff’d in part sub nom.U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259, 2012 WL 171117 (U.S. 2012) [emphasis added]
So this whole case came about because the DC cops let their warrant expire and then bugged the guy’s car while it was outside their jurisdiction. After they got caught, they argued that they didn’t really need a warrant in the first place.
The case was then appealed, granted certiorari, and finally heard by the Supreme Court.
Almost five and a half years after the end of Jones’s original trial (which itself was for actions the defendant took between 2003 and October 2004).
And all because the police tried to fast-talk their way out of something they knew wasn’t going to work.
Sure, the police might screw you over, but unless you can afford to pay your lawyer for the better part of a decade, you’re not going to prevail.
And the government? They don’t care if they can’t afford their own appeals; after all, you’re the one footing their bill.
Then there’s only one way we can resolve this:
Set the rioters on fire!
On a more serious note, the Home Secretary, Teresa May, doesn’t want to do much to stop the rioters:
“The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon,” she told Sky News. “The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.”
Well, since the communities are rioting, the whole consent thing is pretty clearly failing you.
There’s a big difference between peacefully protesting the death of a man shot by the police and setting London on fire and looting whatever you can.
The first is fine.
The second, not so much. Luckily for the looters, self-defense is verboten.
Lest you be charged with cyberstalking.
They should have called up Tennessee State Rep. Joe Armstrong and asked his opinion; it probably would have been similar to his rationale for having UT pull satirical mints from the bookstore’s shelves:
He said the breath freshener was “very specifically insulting to the president” and said the university should be sensitive to what he called “politically specific products.”
Apparently free speech means you’re not allowed to insult public figures like the police and the president.
There’s no tyrant like a petty tyrant, I always say.
And reserve our ire for teachers, instead.
Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC said:
The worst teacher in America could never do as much damage as the worst police officer in America. But the right wing has never even been slightly curious about evaluating the job performance of police officers. Never once has Republican world said hey, maybe we should look into how police officers are carrying out their solemn public responsibility to serve and protect.
No — no right wing website in America is investigating or will ever investigate how well police officers do their jobs. [emphasis added at Reason]
That’s news to me. And it would be news to the people writing at Reason, to Radley Balko, and to the many gunbloggers out there who keep posting about the crazy shit cops get away with.
And that would certainly be news to everyone looking in to Fast and Furious. Hell, the only people interested in investigating the ATF (or do they not count as cops?) are on the right.
Is this that epistemic closure thing I keep hearing about?
I mean, I complained about it on twitter three whole days ago (an eternity in internet time)! Where were the rest of you!
Seriously, though. The idea that the police can make you give them your password is ludicrous; if they have probable cause, they can get a warrant, just like for your house.
And just like with your house, if you don’t let them in, they’re perfectly capable of busting down the door.
It’s just that in this case, “busting down the door” is a wee bit more difficult.
I am curious, though. If you refuse to comply, can you be held in contempt and jailed forever? Or at some point does that violate your 8th amendment rights?
From this description, it’s only a matter of time until the TSA goes all Fifth Element on us and demands to know if we’re classified as human.
If I wore t-shirts, I’d have to get one of these for my next trip through the gauntlet.
I don’t think they’d get it, though.
I don’t know if she’s as guilty as sin or not (I didn’t follow the media hooplah at all, and still haven’t read much about the case); she certainly did everything she could to make herself look guilty. But merely looking guilty is not a crime.
The government did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
I don’t know if it was cause of the CSI effect or not, but what I’ve read makes it sound like the prosecution completely flubbed. It looks like they were going for a high-profile career-making sensational case, instead of proving what they could.
Whether Anthony killed her child or not, she definitely could have been brought up on negligence charges; given her behavior, those would have been almost sure to stick.
I should also remind readers that we don’t have a justice system.
We have a legal system.
P.S. Don’t talk to the cops. They are not your friends.
What if they’re a bunch of criminals dressed up like the police so that home invasion robberies are easier to pull off?
This is yet another reason why no-knock warrants ought to be abolished.
If the police are never allowed to bust in, guns at the ready, then you won’t have to worry about people pretending to be the police kicking in your door. If someone does kick in your door, you know that they’re criminals.
Instead of criminals who also happen to be the police.
I had an odd dream last night; from what I’ve been able to remember of it, the BATFE wasn’t in charge of guns, booze, bombs, and cigs, but music and dancing; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tempo, Fortissimo, and Encores.
Their SWAT ninjas would kick in the doors of white boys (like me!), who were attempting to dance without a rhythm tax stamp.
The big news was that the ATF had a big music-running scandal blow up in their faces: Operation Fast and Melodious. Music store owners had been falling down on the job, and were letting shady guys buy all the music they wanted and carry it to unauthorized users in buckets.
I’m sure there was more, but dream memory is fleeting. The idea of federal music cops and Operation Fast and Melodious stuck with me, though.