Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supreme Court: Drug-Sniffing Dog on Your Porch Needs a Warrant

Today’s Florida v. Jardines decision in a nutshell (by Kevin Russell at ScotusBlog):
The Court held a dog sniff at the front door of a house where the police suspected drugs where being grown constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.
The case involved a marijuana grow house and the smell in question was that of pot plants, not pot smoke. (FN and WTNK readers understand that the former scent is much more difficult to detect and has been the subject of over-reaching claims by various police departments.)

The case hinges on expectations of privacy in and around one’s home, on whether a drug-sniffing dog is like thermal-imaging technology, and on the Founder’s view of the legal status of scent-tracking dogs.

Interesting split decision: conservative justices Scalia and Thomas joined by liberals Kagen, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor for the majority; conservatives Alito and Roberts joined by liberals Kennedy and Breyer in dissent.

Dog owner and constitutional law prof Ann Althouse finds Alito’s opinion more “dog positive.”

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