There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the Supreme Court came out the right way on a civil liberties issues. The bad news is that it was a 5-4 decision, not the 9-0 it should have been. Which shows how tenuous our civil liberties are. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that law enforcement cannot track people’s movements for periods of weeks or months without a warrant.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the acquisition of cell-site records by government officials is covered under the Fourth Amendment.
Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the opinion sided with the court’s four liberal judges; Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer – while Justice Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.
While stressing that their decision doesn’t question longstanding surveillance techniques and tools such as security cameras, Roberts said that historical cell-site records present even greater privacy concerns than monitoring via GPS.
“Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities,” Roberts said, adding “While individuals regularly leave their vehicles, they compulsively carry cell phones with them all the time.”
“A cell phone faithfully follows its owner beyond public thoroughfares and into private residences, doctor’s offices, political headquarters, and other potentially revealing locales.”
The conservative judges strongly objected – writing four times as much in their dissents than Roberts did for the court’s majority.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the government’s search of cellphone location records was permissible because they were held by the service provider, not the individual. “The court’s new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement.”
Justice Samuel Alito called it a “revolutionary” ruling that “guarantees a blizzard of litigation while threatening many legitimate and valuable investigative practices upon which law enforcement has rightfully come to rely.” –USA Today
To continue reading: Supreme Court: Cops Can’t Track Cell Phone Location Without A Warrant