Washington, D.C. –
The U.S. Supreme court has ruled unanimously that police are required to get a warrant from a judge before they can secretly install and track GPS devices on the vehicle of a suspect ordering that police and the FBI violated the 4th Amendment by attaching a GPS device to a Jeep owned by a drug suspect.
“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,'” Antonin Scalia said. “The government physically occupied the private property to obtain information,” he said.
Such a search is unconstitutional unless officers obtained a search warrant from a judge. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor joined Scalia’s opinion.
However exactly how far the government and police can go was split with Justice Samuel A. Alito joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan writing that the “long-term monitoring” of the vehicle with a tracking device violated the 4th Amendment regardless of whether the device was attached to a car. He took the view that the government violated breached motorist’s right to privacy by tracking his movements for weeks on end saying police would need a search warrant for any use of a tracking device, whether or not it was attached to the car.
None of the justices agreed with the Justice Department’s view that the use of GPS device was a reasonable means of tracking a motorist on a public highway.