Friday, November 4, 2011

GPS Surveillance: Will the Supreme Court Go New York's Way?

    Back on May 12, 2009, I reported here that the New York Court of Appeals had that day ruled that the police cannot attach a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device to a person's automobile without a search warrant. People v. Weaver, 12 N.Y.3d 433 (2009). I noted that the opinion by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was a resounding invocation of  "the right to be let alone" enunciated by Justice Louis Brandeis in his prescient dissent in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).
    I also noted that because Weaver was based on provisions of the New York State Constitution the decision was beyond review by the United States Supreme Court.
    Next Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to address the issue when it hears oral argument in United States v. Jones, a Government appeal from a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that a warrant was required to install the GPS tracking device which monitored Jones' movements in his car for approximately four weeks. Decisions in at least four other federal circuit courts have upheld the warrantless installation of a GPS tracking device.     

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