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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Accepts Case Challenging GPS Surveillance Without a Warrant

Posted Jun 27, 2011 11:21 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether police can place a GPS device on a suspect’s vehicle and track his movements without getting a warrant.

According to Wired’s Threat Level blog, the case “is arguably one of the biggest Fourth Amendment cases in a decade—one weighing the collision of privacy, technology and the Constitution.” The United States had urged the court to grant cert. United Press International, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times also have stories.

Accused cocaine dealer Antoine Jones objects to a GPS device placed on his vehicle to record his movements, including his trips to a stash house where police found cocaine and $850,000 in cash. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned Jones’ conviction because police did not get a warrant.

The government contends the GPS device can be installed under a 1983 Supreme Court case, United States v. Knotts, which allowed police to install a beeper device in a can of chemical used to make drugs. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a person’s movements from one place to another, the government argues.

The case is United States v. Jones.

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