Supreme Court asked to take GPS surveillance case
WASHINGTON -- It's a wide, wired world out there, and the Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to let law enforcement take advantage of it to build cases against the bad guys.
The administration wants the justices to overturn a decision last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that said police must get a warrant before beginning a long-term surveillance of a suspect using a global positioning device attached to the man's car.
In overturning the conviction of a Washington nightclub owner accused of being a prominent cocaine kingpin, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said the appeals court decision was not faithful to a Supreme Court ruling that people have no expectation of privacy when traveling along public streets.
"Prompt resolution of this conflict is critically important to law enforcement efforts throughout the United States," Katyal told the court in a petition asking them to take the case of United States v. Antoine Jones.
Jones had been sentenced to life in prison and ordered to surrender $1 million in drug profits before the appeals court overturned his conviction last year. For a month, police had recorded his trips around the Washington area and repeated trips to a stash house in Prince George's County, Md., where police eventually found mounds of cocaine and $850,000 in cash.
Appeals courts in two other parts of the country have sided with law enforcement on the issue, saying police do not need a warrant for the kind of prolonged surveillance the GPS devices can provide.
The decisions come as judges increasingly are asked to unravel the connection between modern technology and constitutional protections of privacy and against unreasonable searches. GPS devices in cell phones and cars contain a wealth of information about a person's movements, and a smartphone can provide law enforcement with vast amounts of information.
"This case is really going to confront the court with the problem of adopting the Fourth Amendment to a new information age," said Daniel Prywes, a Washington lawyer who wrote a brief in the Jones case for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"I think it's the seminal privacy case of the 21st century."
It could be months before the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Riots in Baltimore raise questions about police response
- Riot erupts in Baltimore after funeral for man hurt in police custody
- Storm knocks out power to New Orleans airport for hours
- Obamacare contraception ruling thrown out
- Teacher called hero in Wash. school shooting
- Iowa avian flu outbreak might be spreading
- Study a surprise: Commercial bees unfazed by pesticides
- Government fluoride standard lowered
- Man formally charged with murder of Indiana student
- Top Tulsa sheriff’s aide quits under fire
- GOP leaders able to forge deal on budget