565 U.S. 400 (2012), 10-1259, United States v. Jones

Docket Nº:10-1259
Citation:565 U.S. 400, 132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911, 80 U.S.L.W. 4125, 23 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 102
Opinion Judge:Scalia, Justice.
Party Name:UNITED STATES, Petitioner v. ANTOINE JONES
Attorney:Michael R. Dreeben argued the cause for petitioner. Stephen C. Leckar argued the cause for respondent.
Judge Panel:Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p.___.Alito, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GINSBURG, Breyer and Kagan, JJ., joined, post, p.___. Ju...
Case Date:January 23, 2012
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 400

565 U.S. 400 (2012)

132 S.Ct. 945, 181 L.Ed.2d 911, 80 U.S.L.W. 4125, 23 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 102

UNITED STATES, Petitioner

v.

ANTOINE JONES

No. 10-1259

United States Supreme Court

January 23, 2012

Argued November 8, 2011.

SYLLABUS

[181 L.Ed.2d 915] [132 S.Ct. 946] The Government obtained a search warrant permitting it to install a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device on a vehicle registered to respondent Jones's wife. The warrant authorized installation in the District of Columbia and within 10 days, but agents installed the device on the 11th day and in Maryland. The Government then tracked the vehicle's movements for 28 days. It subsequently secured an indictment of Jones and others on drug trafficking conspiracy charges. The District Court suppressed the GPS data obtained while the vehicle was parked at Jones's residence, but held the remaining data admissible because Jones had no reasonable expectation of privacy when the vehicle was on public streets. Jones was convicted. The D. C. Circuit reversed, concluding that admission of the evidence obtained by warrantless use of the GPS device violated the Fourth Amendment.

Held:

The Government's attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. ___ - ___, 181 L.Ed.2d, at 917-923.

(a) The Fourth Amendment protects the " right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures:" Here, the Government's physical intrusion on an " effect" for the purpose of obtaining information constitutes a " search." This type of encroachment on [132 S.Ct. 947] an area enumerated in the Amendment would have been considered a search within the meaning of the Amendment at the time it was adopted. Pp. ___ - ___, 181 L.Ed.2d, at 917-918.

(b) This conclusion is consistent with this Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, which until the latter half of the 20th century was tied to common-law trespass. Later cases, which have deviated from that exclusively property-based approach, have applied the analysis of Justice Harlan's concurrence in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, which said that the Fourth Amendment protects a person's [181 L.Ed.2d 916] " reasonable expectation of privacy," id., at 360, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576. Here, the Court need not address the Government's contention that Jones had no " reasonable expectation of privacy," because Jones's Fourth Amendment rights do not rise or fall with the Katz formulation. At bottom, the Court must " assur[e] preservation of that degree of privacy against government that existed when the Fourth Amendment was adopted." Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 34,

Page 401

121 S.Ct. 2038, 150 L.Ed.2d 94. Katz did not repudiate the understanding that the Fourth Amendment embodies a particular concern for government trespass upon the areas it enumerates. The Katz reasonable-expectation-of-privacy test has been added to, but not substituted for, the common-law trespassory test. See Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 176, 89 S.Ct. 961, 22 L.Ed.2d 176; Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56, 64, 113 S.Ct. 538, 121 L.Ed.2d 450. United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276, 103 S.Ct. 1081, 75 L.Ed.2d 55, and United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705, 104 S.Ct. 3296, 82 L.Ed.2d 530--post-Katz cases rejecting Fourth Amendment challenges to " beepers," electronic tracking devices representing another form of electronic monitoring--do not foreclose the conclusion that a search occurred here. New York v. Class, 475 U.S. 106, 106 S.Ct. 960, 89 L.Ed.2d 81, and Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80 L.Ed.2d 214, also do not support the Government's position. Pp. ___ - ___, 181 L.Ed.2d, at 918-923.

(c) The Government's alternative argument--that if the attachment and use of the device was a search, it was a reasonable one--is forfeited because it was not raised below. P. ___, 181 L.Ed.2d, at 923.

615 F.3d 544, 392 U.S.App.D.C. 291, affirmed.

Michael R. Dreeben argued the cause for petitioner.

Stephen C. Leckar argued the cause for respondent.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p.___.Alito, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GINSBURG, Breyer and Kagan, JJ., joined, post, p.___.

OPINION

Page 402

[132 S.Ct. 948] Scalia, Justice.

We decide whether the attachment of a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device to an individual's vehicle, and subsequent use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements on public streets, constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

I

In 2004 respondent Antoine Jones, owner and operator of a nightclub in the District of Columbia, came under suspicion of trafficking in narcotics and was made the target of an investigation by a joint Federal Bureau Investigation and Metropolitan Police Department task force. Officers employed various investigative techniques, including visual surveillance of the nightclub, installation of a camera focused on the front door of the club, and a pen register and wiretap covering Jones's cellular phone.

Based in part on information gathered from these sources, in 2005 the Government applied to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a warrant authorizing the use of an electronic tracking device on the Jeep Grand Cherokee registered [181 L.Ed.2d 917] to Jones's wife. A warrant issued, authorizing

Page 403

installation of the device in the District of Columbia and within 10 days.

On the 11th day, and not in the District of Columbia but in Maryland,1 agents installed a GPS tracking device on the undercarriage of the Jeep while it was parked in a public parking lot. Over the next 28 days, the Government used the device to track the vehicle's movements, and once had to replace the device's battery when the vehicle was parked in a different public lot in Maryland. By means of signals from multiple satellites, the device established the vehicle's location within 50 to 100 feet, and communicated that location by cellular phone to a Government computer. It relayed more than 2,000 pages of data over the 4-week period.

The Government ultimately obtained a multiple-count indictment charging Jones and several alleged co-conspirators with, as relevant here, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841 and 846. Before trial, Jones filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the GPS device. The District Court granted the motion only in part, suppressing the data obtained while the vehicle was parked in the garage adjoining Jones's residence. 451 F.Supp.2d 71, 88 (2006). It held the remaining data admissible, because " '[a] person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.' " Ibid. (quoting United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276, 281, 103 S.Ct. 1081, 75 L.Ed.2d 55 (1983)). Jones's trial in October 2006 produced a hung jury on the conspiracy count.

In March 2007, a grand jury returned another indictment, charging Jones and others with the same conspiracy. The Government introduced at trial the same GPS-derived locational data admitted in the first trial, which connected Jones

Page 404

to the alleged conspirators' stash house that contained $850,000 in cash, 97 kilograms of [132 S.Ct. 949] cocaine, and 1 kilogram of cocaine base. The jury returned a guilty verdict, and the District Court sentenced Jones to life imprisonment.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the conviction because of admission of the evidence obtained by warrantless use of the GPS device which, it said, violated the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544, 392 U.S.App.D.C. 291 (2010). The D. C. Circuit denied the Government's petition for rehearing en banc, with four judges dissenting. 625 F.3d 766, 393 U.S.App.D.C. 194 (2010). We granted certiorari, 564 U.S. 1036, 131 S.Ct. 3064; 180 L.Ed.2d 885 (2011).

II

A

The Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that " [t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." It is beyond dispute that a vehicle is an " effect" as that term is used in the Amendment [181 L.Ed.2d 918] . United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 12, 97 S.Ct. 2476, 53 L.Ed.2d 538 (1977). We hold that the Government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle,2 and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a " search."

It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case: The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a

Page 405

" search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted. Entick v. Carrington, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C. P. 1765), is a " case we have described as a 'monument of English freedom' 'undoubtedly familiar' to 'every American statesman' at the time the Constitution was adopted, and considered to be 'the true and ultimate expression of constitutional law' " with regard to search and seizure. Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 596, 109 S.Ct. 1378, 103 L.Ed.2d 628 (1989) (quoting Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 626, 6 S.Ct. 524, 29 L.Ed....

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