Feds Did OK In GPS Case, Warrant May Not be Needed: Analysis


The federal government did far better in the Supreme Court’s GPS tracking case than has been generally recognized, says attorney Tom Goldstein of Scotusblog.com. Goldstein believes federal investigators are “more likely than not to prevail in a later case in which [they install] a GPS monitor without a warrant and tracks the individual for only a couple of days.”

The alignment of justices importantly leaves two questions unanswered, Goldstein says: First, does the “search” caused by installing a GPS device require a warrant? The answer may be no, given that no member of the court squarely concludes it does and four Justices who join the Samuel Alito concurrence do not believe it constitutes a search at all. If no warrant is required for installation, is a warrant required for short-term monitoring of the GPS device? Again, the answer may be no, as the majority conspicuously avoids addressing this issue and four members of the Court squarely say that the answer is “no.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor alone says that this scenario “will require particular attention.”

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