- Professor Orin Kerr, George Washington Law
On Tuesday, March 3, 2015 the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in City of Los Angeles v. Patel. Los Angeles has an ordinance that requires hotels to maintain certain records about their guests and to produce those records for police officers upon request. The officer does not necessarily need a warrant or any particular suspicion. Hoteliers claim that this regime violates the Fourth Amendment. Interestingly, the hoteliers do not allege that any particular search was illegal. Is this kind of “facial” Fourth Amendment challenge to a statute or ordinance (as opposed to an “as applied” challenge to a particular search carried out under the statute) permissible? This issue raises fundamental questions about the constitutional structure of judicial review, with importance reaching far beyond the Fourth Amendment context.
In December of 2014, Microsoft filed a brief with the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York to prevent the U.S. Department of Justice from seizing a customer’s data stored in Dublin, Ireland. It’s a case that raises important questions about the right of Americans to know what the government and companies are doing with sensitive electronic data. How do we ensure accountability both to the law through reasonable regulation, and to the courts through effective judicial review? The case also raises questions about the rights of people in other countries. Will they continue to have their privacy rights protected by their own laws? Anticipating a world where every device is a connected device, these are but a few of the important questions raised by this case regarding the future of privacy and regulations going forward.
On December 15, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Heien v. North Carolina, the question in this case was whether a police officer’s mistaken understanding of a law can provide the reasonable suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires to justify a traffic stop.
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that a police officer's reasonable mistake of law can give rise to the reasonable suspicion necessary to justify a stop under the Fourth Amendment. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Kagan filed a concurring opinion which Justice Ginsburg joined. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion. The decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina was affirmed.
To discuss the case, we have Ryan Scott, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.