Supreme Court Respect for Drug Sniffing Dogs Results in Stricter Use

Supreme Court Respect for Drug Sniffing Dogs Results in Stricter Use

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion today in Florida v. Jardines holding that police must have a search warrant in order to use drug sniffing dogs outside of a person's home. Here, the court placed a limit on a previous ruling, which had permitted the use of drug sniffing dogs during a traffic stop without a warrant.

Justice Scalia, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision stated that "the home is the first among equals," and that if police were simply allowed to stand on home's porch or garden and search with impunity, the fourth amendment would have little practical value.

Justice Alito, in writing for the majority, was unwilling to make a distinction between odors that could be smelled by humans and canines. Justice Alito stated that "It is clear that the occupant of a house has no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to odors that can be smelled by human beings…I would not draw a line between odors that can be smelled by humans and those that are detectable only by dogs."

In short, it appears that the libertarian and liberals on the court found that the use of drug sniffing dogs to search the curtilage of a person's home without a warrant was too far removed from the reasonableness of searches required by the fourth amendment.

Citation: Florida v. Jardines

Categories: Supreme Court
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