City Desk

It’s Official: D.C. Cops Can’t GPS You Without a Warrant

Today the Supreme Court released its decision on United States vs. Jones, the case of D.C. nightclub owner Antoine Jones who was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking after MPD—without a warrant—installed a GPS tracker on his car and monitored his movements for 30 days. Jones appealed, arguing that the tracker was a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to freedom from an unreasonable search.

The case went to the Supreme Court last November. At the time, we wrote:

Assigning a cop to tail every suspected criminal isn't physically possible, but that's no longer a problem with current trackers. "These devices—you put it on a car and leave it alone and check back in a month or two months or a year and have a record of where that person has been," [Cato Institute Fellow Julian] Sanchez says. "Is that something the Fourth Amendment would permit? And you intuitively want to say ‘no.’ "

The Court agrees. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion, saying that the government's decision to track Jones 24 hours a day—even on public roads—was still a search, and upheld the appeals court's decision that it was a violation of Jones' rights.

Photo by TexasGOPVote.com via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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