The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last week that police may not automatically search vehicles following an arrest of the driver. This finding contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York v. Belton, which holds that police may search any vehicle following the lawful arrest of its driver. The Belton rule is supposed to prevent suspects from destroying evidence or reaching for weapons, but in practice it’s just another excuse to search people […]
Fortunately, I’m not the only one who lies awake at night cursing the Supreme Court’s decision in New York v. Belton. In a unanimous ruling, the NJ Supreme Court concluded that Belton‰s logic “simply does not pass muster.” The article also notes that MA, NV, OR, NM, WY, and PA have similarly rejected the Supreme Court’s outrageous effort to strip arrestees of their 4th Amendment protections.
Fascinating issue. The article referenced points out how New Jersey (and the other states) can ignore U.S. Supreme Court precedent:
“The United States Supreme Court interpretations of the Federal Constitution establish not the ceiling but only the floor of minimal constitutional protection,” the justices wrote.
The ruling, in essence, gives people in New Jersey greater protection against unreasonable searches and seizures under the state constitution than the U.S. Supreme Court has provided under its interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.
Scott hopes the New Jersey decision will embolden other states to follow suit.