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March 2013
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Supreme Court finally limits dog searches

Important, and close, ruling handed down today.

Court: Drug dog sniff is unconstitutional search

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police cannot bring drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence without first getting a warrant for a search, a decision which may limit how investigators use dogs’ sensitive noses to search out drugs, explosives and other items hidden from human sight, sound and smell.

The high court split 5-4 on the decision to uphold the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling throwing out evidence seized in the search of Joelis Jardines’ Miami-area house. That search was based on an alert by Franky the drug dog from outside the closed front door.

Justice Antonin Scalia said a person has the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the government’s gaze inside their home and in the area surrounding it, which is called the curtilage.

“The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority. “And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s, planted firmly on that curtilage — the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”

He was joined in his opinion by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Interesting line-up of Justices on the two sides.

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11 comments to Supreme Court finally limits dog searches

  • Matthew Meyer

    Thank Cthulu!

  • darkcycle

    Well, Dog remains infallible, but at least there are limits to where he can go.

  • What a surprise, Justice Scalia who created the drug war exception to the Constitution decided that the Constitution actually means something.

  • Servetus

    The Supreme Court decision means I can cancel plans to build a moat. Maybe I can still get a refund for the crocodiles.

  • ezrydn

    I had two rookies come to my door when I lived in Dago. Seems someone reported a “woman screaming.” I chuckled, and invited them in. We walked down the hallway and turned left into the kids room. I pointed at the cages and said, “There’s your screaming woman.” Four questioning Cockatoo eyes were locked on the rookies. They didn’t think it was the source of the scream. I told one rookie, “Draw your gun quickly,” which he did.

    Seeing that, Skipper, my oldest emitted a blood curdling scream that sent the two cops back into the living room. We had a good laugh over it and I assured them that I actively try to keep them quiet. They left smiling.

    THEN, I went and had a talk with Skip and Scoot.

  • Landis

    So good to read.

  • lessgov

    another 5/4 squeaker. freedom is dying……

    • stlgonzo

      Roberts has really turned out to be a huge Statist. I don’t think he believes the 4th amendment even exists.

  • […] was refreshing earlier this week to see a few of the Justices crack open their dusty Constitutions and discover some text sitting […]