Warrantless Searches Once Again on TrialJune 28th, 2011
Despite the unfortunate reauthorization of the Patriot Act by Congress last month, provisions of the law, especially with regards to warrantless searches, are being challenged in the courts. This week, the Supreme Court is going to weigh in on the constitutionality of bugging somebody’s car with a GPS tracking device without a proper search warrant, which some believe is a flagrant violation of the 4th amendment.
The case in question revolves around Antoine Jones, who was convicted in 2008 for possession and distribution of cocaine. Mr. Jones’ argument is that the evidence presented in his trial was illegally gotten from a GPS tracking device secretly mounted on his Jeep for a month leading up to his arrest. Therefore, the evidence cannot be considered admissible because it was acquired without a search warrant being filed.
Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Mr. Jones’ favor, stating that the tracking is a violation of the 4th amendment, yet the government maintains that the warrantless GPS tracking is in compliance with previous court rulings regarding searches. As the case goes before the Supreme Court, civil rights groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have filed amicus briefs, claiming the new modern tracking style is “highly intrusive” and needs to be restrained.
Regardless of the outcome of this case, it brings to light how modern technology, while mostly used for positive purposes, can become formidable tools to infringe on one’s natural right to privacy, and for the government to use in its never-ending spying missions against its own citizens. This particular method may be deemed unconstitutional, and I hope it does, but knowing Washington, they’ll probably find another, more secretive way to spy on us.
All in the name of national security.