The Media Got It Wrong: SCOTUS Didn’t Hold That A Warrant Is Required For Using A GPS On A Suspect’s Car

The title of this post pretty much says it all. I agree with Tom Goldstein’s analysis on SCOTUSblog where he explains why the United States Supreme Court didn’t hold in United States v. Jones that law enforcement must get a warrant before installing and/or using a GPS device to monitor a criminal suspect.

In fact, he does such a good job explaining why here that I won’t waste your time with duplicated effort. Just read his post. I excerpt the most key part below:

So to sum up, here is what I think it is fair to conclude about Jones.  It holds that installing a GPS device is a search that may or may not require a warrant, and it strongly suggests that long-term monitoring of that device will require a warrant.  But the Court does not hold that installing the device requires a warrant, and in fact the tea leaves suggest it would reject that conclusion if the device is only going to be monitored for a day or two.

There you have it. Tom gets it right. The media get it wrong.

-Zachary Cloud

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One response to “The Media Got It Wrong: SCOTUS Didn’t Hold That A Warrant Is Required For Using A GPS On A Suspect’s Car

  1. Lester M. Paredes III

    The question presented was whether it was a search and the Court found that it was despite the fact that the movements of the car were exposed to the public. The “trespassory” aspect appears to be the basis of that ruling.

    The question of reasonableness as reserved for another day because the government did not raise and thus forfeited the argument, presumably under the Automobile Exception, that it did not need a warrant, only probable cause.

    However, this case does signal a shift in the jurisprudence and attitude in that the Court appears willing to look closely at the intersection of privacy and technology.

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