Dogs’ Drug-Sniffing At Issue Next Week In Supreme Court Arguments


Franky found drugs in Florida. He's a dog, so he left the constitutional questions to others, McClatchy Newspapers report. Franky's work and another drug-sniffing dog's diligence in Florida will draw the Supreme Court's attention next week. Not for the first time, justices must figure out when a canine sniff is a search, with all the constitutional consequences that implies. “The Fourth Amendment says no unreasonable search and seizures,” said law Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz of Georgetown University, “so is that a search that triggers the Fourth Amendment inquiry?”

Dubbed the “dog-sniff cases,” two disputes to be heard Wednesday involve distinct sets of facts. Taken together, they could end up limiting or, more likely, spurring the already-popular use of dogs in law enforcement. Tellingly, 24 states – including Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Idaho – have sided with Florida law enforcement officials, noting in a brief that “drug-detecting canines are one of the essential weapons in the states' arsenal to combat this illegal traffic.” Legal analysts predict the court will side with Florida law enforcement officials, likening a dog sniff to a police officer's ability to smell marijuana wafting from a stopped car. “I don't think the court is very willing to draw a line between what the dog and what an individual can smell,” said lawyer and legal blogger Tom Goldstein.

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