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Supreme Court: GPS Tracking By Cops Without Warrant Illegal, Unconstitutional


GPS tracking device

GPS tracking device

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Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner in Washington, D.C., was sentenced to life in prison on a drug conspiracy conviction. Prosecutors built their case around police GPS tracking of Jones’ Jeep, which was followed to a residence used as a stash house for money and drugs.

Jones appealed his conviction, alleging that the police couldn’t employ GPS tracking on his vehicle without a warrant. Doing so, Jones’ attorney argued, violated his client’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Law enforcement, and even earlier court decisions, countered by saying that the evidence obtained was no different than police could gather through regular visual surveillance.

The case of U.S. v Jones, 10-1259, went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Washington Post reports that the Justices were unanimous in their decision: placement of a GPS tracking device without a warrant constitutes an illegal search.

Justice Scalia said of the decision, “By attaching the device to the Jeep, officers encroached on a protected area.”

An appeals court had already overturned Jones’ conviction, but today’s victory must have been equally rewarding.

It opens the door for appeals on dozens of such cases from coast to coast, and changes the rules that law enforcement must play by when gathering evidence on suspects.

Some in the Supreme Court felt that the decision didn’t go far enough. Justice Alito, in a concurring opinion, stated that the court should have address GPS tracking of cell phones and other wireless devices. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagen agreed.

On the one hand, the Supreme Court's decision is a victory for personal liberty, but on the other hand it makes the job of law enforcement that much more difficult.

Worse, it's likely that the decision will overturn convictions, freeing felons guilty of crimes ranging from armed robbery through homicide.

Is the court's decision a victory for citizen's rights, or a setback for law enforcement?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

 
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Comments (10)
  1. That might not happen again anytime soon. The SUPREME COURT just ruled that the police need a WARRANT to place a GPS on anyone's car.

  2. That's one small victory for liberty and the Constitution.

  3. crest2564...couldn't agree more. And...I also agree with Justice Alito that the court should have ruled on non-warranted GPS tracking of cell phones. It's high time the Constitution should still mean something and not be trodden into the dirt. Note that the decision was unanimous !

  4. crest2564...couldn't agree more. And...I also agree with Justice Alito that the court should have ruled on non-warranted GPS tracking of cell phones. It's high time the Constitution should still mean something and not be trodden into the dirt. Note that the decision was unanimous !

  5. Unanimous? You mean they were ALL AWAKE? If ANYTHING should have TERM LIMITS, it's the Supreme Court!

  6. Was there any mention of all those cars using Onstar?
    Or is that information protected from search and seizure?

  7. @Taddeo, I'm almost certain that OnStar won't release that information to law enforcement without a court order.

  8. If it is illegal to catch drug dealers,why not make drug use Legal?How stupid people out of university can be!Lawers and judges.

  9. This just in... The supreme leader has now issued a mandate all persons must install a gps device in their car, unless you are on your way to vote for him. In that case, no gps tracking, nor photo id is required to drive or vote.

  10. 8901 2607 6222 6905 017 this number is a sim card T-mobile off a gps tracking device that i catch a guy putting under my car . And the Surpreme Court is full of lip service . Because this crooked goverment say that even know i have the tracking device they say that my report is unfounded according to Jerry Tessner Of the Kings Mountain Police . Call him up and ask .And if you would like to see the tracking device i still have it.

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