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Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided US v. Jones, a case I posted about a little while ago. The case involved an investigation into a suspected drug runner, Antoine Jones. The police secretly attached a small GPS tracker to the underside of Jones’ car. Once installed (and serviced when the batteries ran down), it remained on the Jeep around the clock for 28 days, producing a 2,000-page log of Jones’s whereabouts. Kinda creepy, no?
The question in Jones was whether the installation of a GPS device constitutes a ”search” under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Court held that it is a “search.” However – and this is the annoying part – the Court did not say whether the search was “reasonable” in Jones’s case, or whether it would ever be reasonable. There’s a good recap of reactions to the decision over at Scotusblog.
Justice Scalia, bless him, struggled to find an 1791 analogy to GPS devices: Back then, Scalia suggested, “a constable” might conceal himself “in the target’s coach in order to track its movements.” I’m an originalist, too, but sometimes, we have to reason from slightly more abstract principles (which Nino usually does, but perhaps he was just having fun sparring with Justice Alito, who countered that “this would have required either a gigantic coach, a very tiny constable, or both.”)Published in