The United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday for the first time that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before using a global positioning system (GPS) device to track suspects.
The high court said that GPS tracking amounted to a search, and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The ruling comes as a defeat for the Obama administration, which sought have the top U.S. court overturn the ruling of a U.S. appeals court in Washington which threw out the conviction in August of a Washington nightclub owner arrested for drug dealing.
The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the 2008 conviction of Antoine Jones, saying police violated his constitutional rights by tracking his movements with a satellite navigation system device affixed to his vehicle without a warrant.
The three-judge panel said the use of GPS, or Global Positioning System tracking, was a violation of Jones’ constitutional guarantee in the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old Arab-American student, sued the FBI last year for placing a GPS tracking device on his car and then threatening him with charges when he tried to keep it.
The lawsuit, filed by by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), accused Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller of violating Afifi’s constitutional rights.
The suit, obtained by Talking Points Memo, explained that Afifi, an American-born student at Mission College in Sara Clara who also works as a salesman, was concerned that the device found on his car might be a pipe bomb.
After posting photos of the device on Reddit.com, agents came to his apartment in a “bizarre mission to retrieve the device” and questioned him, according to the lawsuit.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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