“Parking enforcement officers in Saginaw, Michigan, who use chalk to mark the tires of cars to track how long they have been parked are violating the constitution, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.” [Amanda Robert, ABA Journal] In particular, the court found that chalking was a trespass and a search meant to obtain information that was not reasonable under a probable-cause or community-caretaker standard, nor under an exception allowing orderly regulation of road traffic, since in the court’s view it was aimed primarily at obtaining revenue rather than mitigating public hazard. Orin Kerr has more analysis at Volokh Conspiracy.
Police officers in Wisconsin “drew Gerald Mitchell’s blood while he was unconscious—to test his blood alcohol content after a drunk-driving arrest. The state has attempted to excuse the officers by citing an implied-consent statute, which provides that simply driving on state roads constitutes consent to such searches.” Although the right to privacy are not absolute, there are problems with that approach, made worse by a strange Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion extending to highway searches a Fourth Amendment search exception for “pervasively regulated businesses.” [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato cert amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review Mitchell v. Wisconsin]
“Under the revised law, known as C-46, which went into effect in December, police can stop any driver, anywhere, for any reason and demand their sample. Furthermore, you could be cited even if you haven’t driven a car in two hours” because police are given the right to run tests on persons who have recently driven. One strange implication: if you drive to a restaurant and have enough to drink there to cross the blood-alcohol threshold, police can write you up even if you intended to rely on your sober spouse as the one to drive home. [Jon Miltimore, FEE; Maham Abedi, Global News/MSN; earlier]
But see: Richard in comments below says the law is broad but not quite as broad as described above: the original stop must be for some lawful reason, and the law includes an exception that would mostly (though not invariably) preclude liability in the restaurant example.
“‘That buzzing noise over a construction site could be an OSHA drone searching for safety violations,’ Bloomberg Law reports, linking to a May 18, 2018 DOL memorandum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Yes, your friendly neighborhood OSHA inspector is now authorized by the Labor Department ‘to use camera-carrying drones as part of their inspections of outdoor workplaces.'” And while current procedures call for obtaining employer consent before sending the spycams aloft, thus avoiding Fourth Amendment challenge, employers who refuse such consent “risk the ire of the DOL, with serious consequences. Nothing is more likely to put a target on an employer’s back for multiple and frequent future investigations than sending a DOL investigator away from your doors. Refusing consent will label you at the DOL as a bad faith employer that deserves closer scrutiny. This I know through experience practicing before DOL and as a former Administrator of DOL’s Wage & Hour Division.” [Tammy McCutchen, Federalist Society]
And speaking of the Fourth Amendment (if not of OSHA), here is a Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown, Julian Sanchez, and Matthew Feeney on how courts think about rights against unreasonable search and seizure in the digital age, and what could be done to improve protections.
- Kansas Supreme Court rules 4-3 that cops can conduct warrantless search of private homes if they say they smell marijuana. Practical difference between this and “…whenever they please” is not clear [Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal] More: Jacob Sullum;
- At Timbs v. Indiana oral argument, Court seems sympathetic to idea of applying Excessive Fines clause to the states [Robby Soave, Jacob Sullum, Ilya Somin, earlier here, here, and here] Notwithstanding Justice Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s interjections, there is and has been no uniform incorporation of the entire Bill of Rights against the states [Rory Little]
- Arizona Supreme Court should recognize that First Amendment protects right of calligraphic art studio not to be forced to draw invitations and vows for wedding ceremony of which owner/artists disapprove on religious grounds [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato Institute amicus brief in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix]
- Claim: notwithstanding SCOTUS precedent to the contrary, U.S. Constitution contains no general federal power to restrict immigration [Ilya Somin and others, Cato Unbound symposium, more]
- “The Supreme Court Really Needs to Start Defining the Scope of the Second Amendment” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus brief in Mance v. Whitaker, interstate sales by gun dealers] “Bump Stock Rule Bumps Up Against the Constitution” [Shapiro and Larosiere] “The Most Common Firearm in America is Not a ‘Weapon of War’” [same on Cato amicus brief in Worman v. Healey, Massachusetts ban on “assault weapons”] Federal court strikes down as unconstitutional New York’s ban on nunchaku [AP, Lowering the Bar with previous coverage of lawyer’s quest]
- “An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.” That’s a recently adopted provision of the New Hampshire constitution. Now what does it mean? [David Post]
- “Asking a Fourth Amendment nerd why the police don’t just get a warrant is like asking an auto mechanic why drivers don’t just buy a new car.” [Orin Kerr on Twitter] “Judge Thapar Can Handle the Truth about the Fourth Amendment and Due Process” [Ilya Shapiro on police-search case of Morgan v. Fairfield County as well as public university due process case of Doe v. Michigan]
- “Indispensable Remedy: The Broad Scope of the Constitution’s Impeachment Power” [Gene Healy, Cato white paper and video feature] Michael Stokes Paulsen series at Law and Liberty on impeachment and originalism [introduction, developing a principled constitutional basis for use of the power, digression on Aaron Burr, special considerations of impeaching judges and presidents; on original meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in context of English history and Framers’ debates]
- “Nonviolent Felons Shouldn’t Lose Their Second Amendment Rights” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus in Seventh Circuit case of Hatfield v. Sessions]
- Court strikes down federal law banning female genital mutilation as overstepping constitutional authority [Eugene Volokh, Ilya Somin]
- Launched decades ago, advocates still hoping to reanimate: “The problem with zombie constitutional amendments” [Keith Whittington, Harvard Law Review on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and others; ABA Journal; related,
Gerard Magliocca on ratification deadlines]
- Unenumerated rights of constitutional stature should include familial rights of children as well as parents [Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens on Cato amicus brief in Wisconsin Supreme Court case of Michels v. Lyons]
Following robberies, the FBI is hitting Google with “reverse location” orders demanding that it turn over information on all users who were near crime locations at times crimes were committed. “Those users could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell,” which will include many innocent persons. In a Henrico, Virginia, case, the FBI ordered Google to supply identifying information on all users within a several-block radius in a busy area. “Requests like this act as ‘general warrants’ and may violate the Fourth Amendment because they are not tied to a specific device,” said Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. [Thomas Brewster, Forbes]
Chicago has enacted a law requiring food trucks to install GPS trackers reporting their location at all times, and the Fourth Amendment might have something to say about that [Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes on Cato brief in Illinois Supreme Court case of LMP Services v. Chicago; Timothy Snowball, Pacific Legal Foundation; Foodservice Equipment Reports]
Plus: “The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age,” conversation with Julian Sanchez, Matthew Feeney, and Caleb Brown for the Cato Daily Podcast.
In Friday’s Carpenter v. United States the Supreme Court by 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing and joined by the four liberals, held that police collection of cellphone location records covering a period of a week is a search covered by the Fourth Amendment and generally requires a warrant. Orin Kerr has first thoughts. Ilya Shapiro at Cato writes that the Court reaches “the right result for the wrong reason,” in an “artificial muddle” of a decision that carves an exception into the third-party doctrine without the more searching rethinking of search and seizure law that is needed.
More promising, Shapiro says, is Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion — which he styles as a dissent, but is a concurrence in all but name — which points the way to rethinking and strengthening Fourth Amendment search and seizure law along first principles of “the people’s right to be secure in their ‘persons, houses, papers, and effects’ based not on privacy expectations but on property rights, contract law, and statutory protections (all of which can certainly be applied in the modern digital age).” The alternative, says Shapiro, will be for the Court to fall back on “reinventing the Fourth Amendment with each technological revolution,” amid new ad hoc exceptions and elaborations. More background at Cato at earlier stages of the case: Matthew Feeney on oral argument, merits brief, certiorari brief.
A Cato-centric list:
- Supreme Court’s past refusal to enforce plain language of Contracts Clause cries out for review, but in Minnesota life insurance dispute only Gorsuch is up for the task [Roger Pilon, related Cato podcast] More: John McGinnis;
- In Collins v. Virginia, all Justices except Alito agree “that the cops need a warrant to enter your curtilage [area immediately surrounding your home] even if they are doing so to search a vehicle parked there.” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, earlier here and here]
- SCOTUS agrees 8-1 that arrest can constitute First Amendment retaliation even if also backed by probable cause, a position urged by Cato in its brief [Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach; Heidi Kitrosser, SCOTUSBlog]
- Audio: I join Yuripzy Morgan on her WBAL radio show to discuss Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, recent case on Ohio’s maintenance of voter rolls;
- Last winter I observed that neither wing of the Court seemed to be angling for a Culture War knockout at the Masterpiece Cakeshop oral argument, and predicted Kennedy might dispose of the case this way [New York Daily News flashback, more on cert grant and on Court’s decision, Cato Tumblr links on the case]
- Through pretextual police stops, government stealthily revives that hated institution of colonial days, the general warrant [Jay Schweikert on Cato cert amicus in Johnson v. U.S.]