Thursday, July 19, 2012
Fabio Arcila Jr. (Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center) has posted GPS Tracking Out of Fourth Amendment Dead Ends: United States v. Jones and the Katz Conundrum (North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 91, No. 1, 2012, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
United States v. Jones, which reviewed the constitutionality of warrantless GPS tracking, may be the most important Fourth Amendment opinion since the Supreme Court decided Katz v. United States over four decades ago. Jones was a highly anticipated decision because it was widely understood that the stakes at issue extended well beyond those of the specific parties involved or questions being reviewed. Depending upon how the Court resolved the case, its decision promised to have ramifications for numerous core Fourth Amendment doctrines, and in turn for many governmental activities either currently or potentially subject to the Fourth Amendment, activities as varied as routine criminal law enforcement investigations, technological surveillance for either criminal or civil purposes (through GPS but also other means, such as location tracking capabilities embedded in individuals’ cellular telephones), and national security, to name but a few.
The attention devoted to Jones by the legal community and public at large was fully merited. The Supreme Court greatly surprised everyone by ruling unanimously that the GPS tracking at issue was subject to Fourth Amendment protections. More substantively, however, the decision resulted in three separate opinions applying vastly different rationales. This forthcoming article explains the Jones decision, situating it within the broader framework of constitutional search and seizure law; analyzes and critiques the various opinions; and explores the many varied, significant implications that Jones either will or may have for the future of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.