Violating the Fourth Amendmant With Warrantless GPS Tracking
During this fall session, the United States Supreme Court will hear what is possibly the most meaningful case pertaining to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution in the last decade or more. The court will essentially rule on what constitutes a person’s privacy. In the landmark case of Jones v United States, the Court will rule whether it was and is an unconstitutional act for law enforcement personnel to install a GPS tracking device on the car of a suspect without first obtaining a warrant, and subsequently track that persons movements for months at a time.
Antoine Jones had been suspected of trafficking illegal narcotics in Virginia, by the FBI, who placed a GPS tracking device on his vehicle while parked in a public area, then used the device to track Jones’ movements for a month, eventually leading them to a depository of Jones’ which held nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, and $850,000 in cash. Jones was tried and convicted to life in prison. This sentence was then nullified when a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the GPS tracking violated the rights of an American citizen; therefore, the arrest and conviction were due to unlawful practices and were thereby invalid. At issue here is whether or not the FBI violated Jones’ Fourth Amendment right guaranteeing protection from unlawful search and seizure, often referred to as the right to privacy, which states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Read the rest of this entry