(The two also presented an amusing lesson on how to present your argument: Scalia never referred to the police dog by name, and said the animal was restrained by a six-foot leash because of his “wild” nature. Alito called out Franky 11 times, and directed the reader to dogs.about.com to note that a six-foot leash is “standard equipment.”)
The case is just one of several the court accepted this term that raise Fourth Amendment issues. Earlier, the justices ruled 6 to 3 that people who have left the scene where officers are enforcing a search warrant cannot be stopped and detained without probable cause.
(Alan Diaz/AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police cannot have drug-sniffing dogs look for evidence without first getting a search warrant.
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The court has heard oral arguments but has not yet rendered a decision in a case in which police want to be able to draw blood samples from suspected drunken drivers without their consent or a warrant.
And, in what Alito called “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades,” the court heard a challenge to Maryland’s law that allows law enforcement to take DNA samples from those arrested for serious crimes.
That case has not been decided.
Washington lawyer Kannon K. Shanmugam, who represented the Maryland man whose DNA tied him to a different crime from the one for which he was arrested, said the court “seems to be looking for bright-line rules in determining whether police conduct” constituted a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes.
“And the common thread of the recent decisions is that the court isn’t willing to say that police conduct is constitutional just because the government says it’s effective as a law enforcement tactic,” Shanmugam said.
In the oral arguments in Maryland v. King, the liberal ranks seemed split, with Breyer asking questions sympathetic of Maryland’s law, and Kagan extremely critical.
It was the same on the conservative side. Alito stayed true to his image as perhaps the biggest supporter of government in Fourth Amendment cases.
Scalia’s questions were more disapproving. He often cites criminal procedure cases when he tells audiences that the court is not as predictable as it is sometimes depicted, and that liberal and conservative are not always adequate in describing the justices.
As he said during a speech last fall in Wyoming: “I ought to be the pinup of the criminal defense bar.”
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