(Here is the latest edition of the Institute for Justice’s weekly Short Circuit newsletter, written by John Ross.)

New York City law permits the forfeiture of unlicensed for-hire vehicles from repeat offenders. But it turns out that for years inspectors hadn’t been bothering to verify suspected violators’ citation histories, and first-time offenders (or even entirely innocent people) routinely had their cars seized. Which violates the Fourth Amendment, says a federal judge. Click here for more.
Police officer sneaks up driveway and removes cover from man’s motorcycle, so as to ascertain its vehicle identification number. Did the officer need a warrant? The Virginia Supreme Court said no, but in an amicus brief, IJ argues SCOTUS should reverse. Among other things, one’s driveway is not an “open field,” and so that exception to the Fourth Amendment is unavailing. Interestingly, the open fields doctrine, born out of a 1920s whiskey bootlegger case, is itself based on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s misreading of Blackstone. For more on that, click here.