Supreme Court Says “No” to GPS Tracking Without Warrant

United States v. Jones

The United States Supreme Court decided an important case last week concerning Fourth Amendment rights and police GPS tracking without warrant using devices placed on suspected criminal’s vehicles. The Obama administration pressed for a ruling which allowed law enforcement the right to use such tactics without a warrant to aid drug and terrorist investigations.

The Supreme Court, however, disagreed. The ability to use these tactics without a warrant may seem like a good idea in well-intentioned investigations against “bad guys.” However, the ever-increasing technology that pervades society today makes a such a power a very fearful potential abuse of authority.

In the constant battle against “Big Brother”, the decision in United States v. Jones is a big win for privacy rights of United States citizens.

Analysis

An excerpt from the SCOTUS Blog analysis:

Opinion recap: Tight limit on police GPS use
by Lyle Denniston

“Amid a disagreement about what a privacy invasion meant in 1791, but with a strong embrace of privacy in the electronic age, the Supreme Court on Monday suggested that police probably should get a warrant before they physically attach an electronic monitor — like a GPS — to a car or truck, while leaving some doubt about how long such a device may be used, and about what kinds of suspected crimes allow its use. In effect, the Court seemed to have launched years of new lawsuits to sort it all out. The choice Monday was between a minimalist approach, one in the middle, and an expansive view of Fourth Amendment privacy. Each had support among the Justices, but counting the votes was a bit tricky.

“The Court flatly rejected the government’s argument that it was simply not a search, in the constitutional sense, to physically — and secretly — attach a small GPS tracker on the underside of the car used by a man, Antoine Jones, who was a principal target of an investigation into a drug-running operation in Washington, D.C., and its suburbs. The device was installed without a warrant (one had been issued, but it ran out before it was put on the Jeep Cherokee and, in any event, it was limited to Washington, and the device was installed in Maryland). And, once installed (and serviced when the batteries ran down), it remained on the Jeep around the clock for 28 days. The 2,000-page log of where Jones had driven the Jeep was used to convict him of a drug-trafficking conspiracy, leading to a life prison sentence and an order to forfeit $1 million in illegal drug proceeds. One place where the device showed Jones had visited was a “stash house” where $850,000 in cash, 97 kilograms of cocaine, and 1 kilogram of crack cocaine turned up.”

 

Felons in America are no Longer Citizens

Felons Losing Citizenship

What makes the difference between a citizen and non-citizen of the United States? A laundry list of items can be made to cite what makes a these differences, but the core of this list can be found in the U.S. Constitution.

The Bill of Rights1 contains the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and enumerates what the Declaration of Independence calls “Inalienable Rights”2of all men. Specifically, those who are residents and citizens of this country. The Amendments that follow the Bill of Rights expand these rights further.

What happens when a citizen of the U.S. becomes a felon? Answer: many of those inalienable rights become alienated to them. Lets take a closer look at some of these.

The Second Amendment3 says that the right to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed. Yet, a felon in the U.S. cannot keep and bare arms legally and the consequences for doing so are dire4.

The Fourth Amendment5 protects citizens of the U.S. from unlawful search and seizure. Yet, a felon on or off of probation, parole, or supervision loses the standard of the Fourth Amendment where law enforcement needs only
reasonable suspicion to invade their privacy.

The Fifth Amendment6 protects citizens against self-incrimination. Yet, a felon on probation, parole, or supervision must adhere to rules that require honest answers to their supervising officer or risk violating their supervision. Even if
answering that question would mean incriminating themselves. That is placing a felon between a rock and a hard place: between their Fifth Amendment protections and their rules of supervision.

The Sixth Amendment7 ensures a speedy and public trial by impartial jury. Is this even possible for somebody with a pre-existing felony record?

The Fifteenth8 and Nineteenth9 Amendments expand the right to vote to all U.S. Citizens. Yet, felons lose this right (some States, however, are starting to give this one back).

This is a short list and a short article. However, the point is to highlight what makes a man or woman a citizen of the United States. Above are six Amendments to the U.S. Constitution which guarantee rights to citizens of its borders.
These six Amendments do not apply to felons, so the title of this article stands: Felons in America are no Longer Citizens.

  1. Text of the Bill of Rights []
  2. Text of the Declaration of Independance []
  3. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution []
  4. Congressional panel on the construed nature and consequences of violating arms control law []
  5. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution []
  6. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution []
  7. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution []
  8. The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution []
  9. The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution []