Government Attachment of GPS Unit to Car is Violation of Fourth Amendment

The United States Supreme Court just issued its opinion on United States v. Jones in January of 2012.  The issue before the Court was whether or not law enforcement’s attachment of a GPS unit to a suspect’s vehicle was a violation of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights.  The Fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Here, the Court ruled that the Government’s physical intrusion on an “effect” — the automobile — for the purpose of obtaining information constituted a “search.”  The Court stated “[t]his type of encroachment on an area enumerated in the Amendment would have been considered a search within the meaning of the Amendment at the time it was adopted.”

Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court and was jointed by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Sotomayor.  The remaining justices concurred in judgment but filed separate opinions.

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