Court to Rule on Police Access to Motel Registries


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Los Angeles police can inspect hotel and motel guest registries without permission from a judge, reports the New York Times. Dozens of cities, including Atlanta, Denver and Seattle, allow such searches, which law enforcement officials say help them catch fugitives and fight prostitution and drug dealing.

A group of motel owners challenged the law. They said they were not troubled by its requirement that they keep records about their guests. But they objected to a second part of the ordinance, requiring that the records “be made available to any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspection.” In December, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, struck down the ordinance on a 7-4 vote, saying it ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches.

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