Police Need Warrant for Dogs Sniffing Homes

By goes211 on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - 9:10am

Police Need Warrant for Dogs Sniffing Homes, High Court Says

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Drug-sniffing police dogs have their place, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. And it’s not on a suspect’s front porch.

The court today said officers typically need a warrant before taking an animal to the door of a house in the hope of detecting narcotics. The justices ruled on Feb. 19 that police officers can search someone’s car after a trained dog outside the vehicle alerts them to the presence of drugs.

Together, the decisions amount to a vote of respect for the abilities of police dogs -- and wariness about their potential misuse. While the court has previously said officers can walk onto a suspect’s property to knock on the door, the 5-4 majority today said the use of trained dogs is different.

“When it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote. “This right would be of little practical value if the state’s agents could stand in a home’s porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity.”

The justices were considering a bid by Florida officials to revive the prosecution of a man arrested after police raided a Miami house and found marijuana plants.

The Florida Supreme Court said prosecutors couldn’t use evidence obtained in the house because officers violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

Scalia was joined in the majority by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer dissented.

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What I found most interesting in this ruling was the alignment of the Justices.  How often do you see Scalia, Thomas, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan on one side and Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, and Breyer on the other?


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Nice to hear good news

Goes – It is very nice to hear good news on the civil liberties front.  There’s been way too little of that for too long.  The split among the justices is indeed interesting.  What amazes me though is the fact the judgment was so close at 5-4.  This case should really be open and shut.  So many recent decisions have been 5-4 that it becomes obvious they are based on political views, not law.  That is disturbing to think about.

THC – I’m glad to see the ACLU is finally challenging the No Fly List.  It is clearly a violation of  the 5th amendment due process clause when you can be deprived of liberty based on secret information without a way to clear yourself.  This one would make a good thread in its own right.

Thanks to both of you for posting these items.


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