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Judge Doesn't Care About Supreme Court GPS Case

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the he-is-the-decider dept.

Privacy 202

nonprofiteer writes "The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether or not law enforcement needs a warrant before they put a GPS tracker on a person's car. A judge in St. Louis doesn't seem to care about that, though. He ruled last week (PDF) that the FBI didn't need a warrant to track the car of a state employee they suspected was collecting a paycheck without actually going to work. (Their suspicions were confirmed.) While in favor of corrupt government employees being caught, it's a bit disturbing that a federal judge would decide a warrant wasn't needed while the Supreme Court has said the issue is unclear."

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Fuck the Geneva conventions (-1, Flamebait)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578202)

I say der juden need to be rounded up isolated from the rest of society!

Sorry, what was the problem? (5, Informative)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578204)

unclear does not mean one way or the other, until then its the decision of the local law

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (5, Informative)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578292)

Agreed. Until the Supremes rule, the Federal judge has no prior cases on which to base a ruling. The Federal judge has to make a decision now which may be overturned on appeal based on subsequent Supreme Court rulings, but until the Supremes rule on the issue, all bets are off.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578352)

But, what is the precedent for this type thing?

Do most federal judges not hold out on ruling on cases that are currently before SCOTUS?

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578494)

Well, even if a case is before the SCOTUS it may be different enough that the SCOTUS ruling will not affect the case before the lower court.

I would think that putting a GPS on a Government Vehicle wouldn't require a Warrant of any sort, simply because the owner gave permission to tract the vehicle. In this case the judge is probably correct in application of legal principles and won't be affected by the SCOTUS ruling, which probably has to do with private vehicles.

For the others that are complaining about rights being violated, sometimes the world isn't as black and white as you would like. I have no problem with employers of any kind, including governments putting GPS tracking devices on their own vehicles. In fact, I would consider it prudent behavior and anyone not wanting to be tracked in employer's vehicles shouldn't be using them.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578628)

employer's vehicles

Reading TFA, the car actually belongs to the guy, not the employer:

Whether the Constitution allows police to put a tracking device on a car without either a warrant or the owner's permission

Emphasis mine.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578724)

From TFA the vehicle belonged to the employee in question.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578734)

As an aside the dipshit should have argued that another vehicle was being used for his transport, there-by negating the gps tracking. GPS only says where the vehicle is, it doesn't say who was driving.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579244)

Yay, perjury! That certainly wouldn't get him in any more trouble than he's already in, right?

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579356)

Yeah, the FBI are known for having trouble identifying people driving vehicles. They're only masters at placing hidden devices under your vehicle without consent, way too dumb to recognize a face.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578542)

The precedent would be the appelate court ruling that was being appealed to the Supreme Court. The appelate court likely ruled they were legal. So they would stay legal till the Supreme Court says they illegal or untill Congress changes the law.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (5, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579430)

The precedent would be the appelate court ruling that was being appealed to the Supreme Court.

Actually, no. The case being heard by the Supreme Court is being appealed from the D.C. Circuit. Decisions of the D.C. Circuit are not binding on other circuits. However the article says the Judge cited an Eighth Circuit decision United States v. Marquez. As the Eastern District of Missouri is part of the Eighth Circuit, the decision in that case is binding on the lower court.

Effectively, it appears the judge had no choice. If the case citation is accurate, binding precedent in the Eighth Circuit appears to be that no warrant is required for GPS tracking unless and until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579004)

The only reason a judge really would have to hold off would be an injunction of some kind or, more likely, if they felt they would get appealed on and they decide to stall things to see what happens.

Still, while no judge wants to be overturned on appeal, waiting to see what happens in the higher courts is not a procedural reason to stop a trial unless there are actual injunctions and/or motions. At least in the US, there is a right to a speedy trial. Of course, there's plenty of reasons that a trial could go long, but that's because it takes that long to run it's course through standard procedures. Judges can not simply stop or unilaterally slow down consideration of a case without relevant cause (although they do have considerable capabilities to slow things down using procedure if they really wanted to try).

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (3, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578418)

Judges will usually hold a case where a higher court is hearing a case that could affect it to prevent it from having to be reviewed (or possibly appealed and remanded) if the judge's decision is contrary to the higher court's opinion. It's basically an attempt to save the court's time and resources.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578588)

Holding the case here wouldn't help. This ruling effects how the FBI opperates. Either the FBI has to change how they use GPS or the don't have to change. Here the judge is saying they don't have to change untill the Supreme Court says they have to change.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578654)

Judges routinely hold cases where it affects how law enforcement operates. It doesn't always happen, but it's pretty common when cases are pending at higher levels. The FBI may have pushed for a ruling here because of legal uncertainties, but it suggests something in how widespread warrantless GPS tracking may be if this decision throws off the entire agency.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579062)

The judge holds the case where it isn't time sensitive, or where a right to a speedy trial is not invoked. Usually everybody wants to wait, so the judge also agrees to wait. It is expensive for all sides, it is always better to wait when the matter is not truly time sensitive. In this case, waiting would mean that every active investigation correctly following current rules that is using this technology would be held up. That's just not acceptable.

I'm really hoping they will decide that tracking is searching. It seems obvious to me, but so far it is not officially obvious, they tend to say, "Gee, I dunno, let congress decide."

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578424)

No, the judge does _not_ have to make a decision now -- it's actually common for a case to be suspended pending the result of related litigation.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578712)

You have the right to a fair and speedy trial. That precludes waiting for other decisions that may not even prove relevant.

It's unfortunate that this means sometimes people who will eventually be determined innocent may be unduly punished, but we can hardly ignore current law just because it might change.

I have far greater concerns about people who might be swept up in the NDAA clause. We know it's unconstitutional. We know the Supremes will eventually reject that legislation. It's unfair to the population at large to allow that bad clause to become law for any period of time, no matter how brief -- and it may take YEARS for the Supremes to hear a case that overturns it.

NDAA presumes that "We The People" refers only to citizens, not the population as a whole. With the number of work visa and landed immigrant people in the US who are not citizens, the arbitrary reinterpretation of over a century of case law is far too radical to be allowed without a Constitutional referendum. Much as the militant psychopaths might hate it, terrorists are people too, and deserving of human rights protection. That's why they were enshrined as HUMAN rights, not citizen rights.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579074)

"Speedy" in US common law does *not* represent a definite time limit, but floats according to circumstances. Delays of this sort are not "precluded", but are commonplace -- decided case-by-case considering the likelihood of harm by delaying the trial. This _is_ the case law, like it or not.

Why the hell you're bringing up the 2012 NDAA is beyond me, it has no relation to this. As you say, it may be years before a case regarding it is even accepted, but US v. Jones has already been argued, and will soon have a decision. Additionally, it makes no distinction of citizens at all, permitting detention of any suspect in the US, so you plainly don't understand it.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579446)

I'm bringing up the NDAA as an example of how the public can be affected by bad legislation until a ruling by the Supremes can overturn it. As the most popular topic of the day, I thought it was a good example of the problem.

Would you rather I use one from my medical cannabis argument arsenal? While those issues aren't as popular as NDAA, they're perfectly valid examples for the point.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578402)

And it's not clear if a ruling on the broader matter by the supreme court would matter to the specific case (it might, it might not).

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578756)

the real question is did they gps his car with his gps unit or a government provided car with a government provided gps?

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578860)

my question is: why didn't the local judge just issue a warrant?
my guess-answer is: the judge didn't want to do the paper-work involved. he wanted to go play golf or something. also, if the Feds decide it is NOT OK, his ass is a little better covered.

Re:Sorry, what was the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578912)

The current precedents are all about radio beacon tracking which the Supreme Court said was legal years ago. The decision is an extension of the idea that there is no expectation of privacy of where you drive a vehicle on public roads. Everyone can see you drive by.

Therefore - it is legal for the police to follow your car without a warrant

Therefore - it is legal to use a radio beacon to follow your car without a warrant, just makes it easier

Therefore - it is legal to use a GPS tracking beacon to follow your car too.

It is easy to see the logic of how we got to this point. But prior to the GPS tracker, it took a team of dedicated police officers to track an individual. Even with radio beacons, it was labor intensive. They didn't do it unless they thought it was going to be productive

With GPS trackers it can all be run by computer. Put the tracker on the vehicle and recovering it are the most field labor intensive part of it. A team of people can track multiple people. Police are doing it more, even if they don't expect anything to become of it, just because they can.

It is the automation of the process, therefore the expanding scope of it, that is the most worrisome.

It's the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578210)

The SC case is about the police. This is totally different. The FBI is the federal government. Silly things like laws don't matter to them.

Re:It's the FBI (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578570)

Also, it's a federal government car. So pretty sure they can trace their own car, legally, without asking the driver(s).

Re:It's the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578914)

This. I think in general the FBI and so on are grossly overstepping their bounds. But, in this specific case, it is in fact a government employee in government property, so the case could be made they are just tracking their own property as opposed to a random member of the public,

Re:It's the FBI (2)

neurophil12 (1054552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579334)

I know it's common to comment without RTFA, but to make a statement of fact regarding the article without reading it is something else entirely.

"Issue: (1) Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on respondent's vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment; and (2) whether the government violated respondent's Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent."

Re:It's the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579190)

Read the article, it was a private vehicle, not a government owned vehicle.

I love how you state something so authoritatively when you have no frigging idea what the heck you are talking about.

He doesn't care? (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578218)

Was this Judge Honey Badger, by any chance?

"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578238)

I'm pretty sure a lower court judge can't just throw out a case because the Supreme Court will probably make a decision sometime later in the year that MAY OR MAY NOT contradict his own. The author of this article makes it sound like, just because some Justices expressed some reservations in their questioning of the case, that it's a foregone conclusion they're going to rule GPS tracking unconstitutional. Personally, I find it highly doubtful that such a conservative court is going to do any such thing. I suspect they'll either come up with some dodge of the issue (overruling on some narrow technicality or something) or outright uphold United States v. Antoine Jones as constitutional.

The present-day SCOTUS is little more than a rubber stamp for the President and Congress. And even when they do make the rare controversial ruling, it's for some conservative political end (like the Citizen's United [wikipedia.org] case), not in some noble defense of citizens' Constitutional rights. I would frankly be surprised if anyone in that chamber has even *glanced* at the U.S. Constitution since they took a required class on it once in law school. The fact that Barack Obama can all but abolish habeas corpus and due process with the stroke of a pen [wikipedia.org] without them so much as raising an eyebrow should let you know where those nine stooges stand on the U.S. Constitution.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578294)

Personally, I find it highly doubtful that such a conservative statist court is going to do any such thing.

FTFY.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578464)

I would frankly be surprised if anyone in that chamber has even *glanced* at the U.S. Constitution since they took a required class on it once in law school.

I'm pretty sure they took more than just one class on constitutional law, and have read the entirety of it more often than you suspect. As for it being a rubber stamp - it can't be at once a rubber stamp for both the President and for Congress, since those two are pretty much at loggerheads over everything these days.

Personally, I'm pretty sure that if you'd ask anyone of the justices, they would all say that they're ruling in defense of citizens' Constitutional rights, and that they just happen to disagree with your personal interpretation of it. Or do you think that the Constitution is the only writing in history where everyone who reads it always comes to the same conclusion? I mean, computer software doesn't even behave like that, and it has one less level of human involvement: the interpreter/compiler. A software writer is as human as a constitutional law writer.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578544)

Sir! How *DAST" you compare me to a lawyer?

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578774)

The fact that the Court almost always splits along 5-4 partisan lines on any case involving liberal vs. conservative politics these days should tell you that politics is their primary concern, not the Constitution. If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive. Just look at how Citizen's United broke down. This was a case where the Republican Party stood to make a major gain from it being overturned (since they benefit the most from Corporate donations). Sure enough, the 5 justices appointed by Republicans voted to overturn and the 4 justices who were appointed by Democrats voted to uphold. You think anyone in the Court that day gave a rat's ass about the Constitution? No, they were representing their POLITICAL PARTIES--period, end of story.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578926)

If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive.

You do realize, don't you, that SCOTUS justices are appointed for life? They have no need to advance any agenda to keep their jobs. They don't have to worry what political parties think, they'll be A-list attendees at any party or event they go to.

What is more likely to be true is that the President who appointed them will appoint someone with a judicial temperment that matches his own desires, and the justice will continue that temperment into his appointment.

While you may see this as "no difference", it really is. The former requires an intent to act in a way to please others. The latter requires only an intent to continue acting in a way that the justice himself finds appropriate. The integrity and motives of the justice do count for something.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578944)

If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive.

Ahem...Souter.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579008)

If you think that the Justices in SCOTUS see the Constitution as anything more than a tool to advance the agenda of the party whose President appointed them, then you are truly naive.

I would suggest at looking at some data about who appointed whom, and how their decisions panned out. You might be surprised. Justice Souter, for example, was so famously a thorn in the side of the Republican Party that he was probably single-handedly responsible for the march toward nominating more politically known entities to the SCOTUS. Furthermore, one of the dissenting justices in the United Citizens case, Justice Stevens, was appointed by a Republican President.

Finally, you're conflating two things: political party and philosophical framework. While one can lead to another, it is dangerous to assume that they are always 1:1 relationships.

All in all, I find your position the most naive - that you can predict the decision of a member of the SCOTUS merely by looking at who nominated them.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578564)

The fact that Barack Obama can all but abolish habeas corpus and due process with the stroke of a pen [wikipedia.org] without them so much as raising an eyebrow should let you know where those nine stooges stand on the U.S. Constitution.

They can raise their eyebrows all they wish, but until a court case concerning the action is brought before them, they can't do a damn thing about it even if they want to.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578600)

The NDAA has yet to be challenged. While you seem to have already decided how a future court (which may or may not look like the current court) will decide it, it's very hard to guess where some justices will come down, especially on things like unlimited confinement for an arrest made in US jurisdictions. Chief Justice Rehnquist was in favor of California legalizing medical marijuana, for example, something that surprised many.

Back to the original point, the judge doesn't have to throw out a case. He can simply put the case on hold pending resolution at higher levels unless for some reason the defendant's rights (such as to a speedy trial) are being violated by holding off. This kind of thing happens fairly often. Even appellate courts do this when an en banc or Supreme Court hearing on a similar issue is pending.

Re:"Currently deciding" = "Haven't decided" (2)

flooey (695860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578742)

The present-day SCOTUS is little more than a rubber stamp for the President and Congress. And even when they do make the rare controversial ruling, it's for some conservative political end (like the Citizen's United [wikipedia.org] case), not in some noble defense of citizens' Constitutional rights. I would frankly be surprised if anyone in that chamber has even *glanced* at the U.S. Constitution since they took a required class on it once in law school.

Indeed, you can clearly see that in such rulings as Boumediene v. Bush [wikipedia.org] (Guantanamo prisoners have the right of habeus corpus), Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association [wikipedia.org] (violent video games are protected by the First Amendment), and Bullcoming v. New Mexico [wikipedia.org] (the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to confront the actual accuser, another person that is employed in the same role is not sufficient).

The current Court is certainly conservative, but it's hardly a rubber stamp on the government. The Justices clearly consider each case on its own merits, and they might disagree with you on what the right answer is, but it's not because they haven't thoroughly considered the case.

The fact that Barack Obama can all but abolish habeas corpus and due process with the stroke of a pen [wikipedia.org] without them so much as raising an eyebrow should let you know where those nine stooges stand on the U.S. Constitution.

Supreme Court justices rarely say anything about a law until a case is presented to them, and they're barred by the Constitution from issuing a ruling on a law until an actual case arising under that law is presented to them. Congress can pass whatever unconstitutional laws it likes, the Supreme Court isn't involved until the laws are invoked in some manner.

IANAL.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578272)

..but isn't the judge free to interpret any way he deems appropriate and the decision stick until a higher court overrules him? Not that I agree with his decision, I am genuinely curious.

Re:IANAL.. (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578388)

Federal judges are appointed for life and can't be fired. So yes, he can rule any way he wants to. Also, judges are immune to the concept of 'power corrupts'; just ask them.

If it was a government car, I'd call it legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578280)

But from everything I've read, it was the suspect's own car. Which means that this case will almost certainly be appealed with the evidence suppressed if the Supreme Court decides in favor of needing a warrant.

Disturbing... (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578282)

At first I thought I read "government owned vehicle" but then I realized this was a government employee with a personally owned vehicle.

This is the WRONG APPROACH. These types of short-sighted rulings open doors for vary bad behavior on the part of government. There are other ways to confirm the behavior of a suspect... of course those ways are less lazy and I guess that's what we are trying to enable the government to be... is lazy... and to collect their pay checks for doing nothing... oh the irony.

Re:Disturbing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578356)

It may be personally owned ... but was he deducting the mileage?

Re:Disturbing... (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578732)

IMO, deducting mileage is irrelevant. If mileage deduction is sufficient to allow warrantless use of tracking, then millions of Americans can be tracked, without a warrant. To me, that's tantamount to putting a camera in every home because they deduct interest of the home from taxes.

Re:Disturbing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578484)

Did he have VPN access? Was he on-call? There is more than one way to be paid without physically changing locations.

Re:Disturbing... (2)

pr0nd3xtr (702443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578562)

They could have someone tail the car but tracking it does the same thing without the need to have one or more people (or some expensive UAV) following this person around. Why waste more gas and people following this asshole freeloader around?

Re:Disturbing... (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578906)

Because people following the car around can check who is IN the car?

This is similar to identification based solely on an IP address - just as the IP at best points to a router, the GPS location only says where the CAR was, NOT where the employee in question was.

Re:Disturbing... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578602)

you call it lazy, I call it more efficient, they were going to track the dude no matter what, and its perfectly legal to tail them, instead of having a gang of agents all on the clock driving around the city in government transportation they let a computer device do it for them

its "green" law enforcement (har har)

Re:Disturbing... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578884)

Sounds like a good case for jury nullification.

Re:Disturbing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579286)

At first I thought I read "government owned vehicle" but then I realized this was a government employee with a personally owned vehicle.

This is the WRONG APPROACH.

Yes, there is a much easier & cheaper way of determining if the employee went to work. How about just looking IF THE EMPLOYEE IS IN THE OFFICE?

The employee must report to someone, how about ASK THE MANAGER? And if the manager doesn't know, fire the idiot.

Most work these days involves a computer. Check when they logged in. Many buildings use electronic locks for access. Check when their key was used.

Judge Noce agrees with Obama Admin (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578334)

So what's the problem?

rule based on current precedents, not future ones (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578348)

So should judges to just sit on their hands and stall until the Supreme Court has told them how to decide the cases in front of them? Or should they do their job and decide those cases promptly, based on their understanding of the existing case law? If the Supreme Court later says that their interpretation is incorrect then it gets overturned, if not then it stays in force. I hate to break it to you, but there are countless legal questions where the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on them, such as one Court of Appeals ruling one way, and another ruling differently. Until a case makes its way to the Supreme Court to settle the question, judges are supposed to continue hear and decide cases; that's their job.

Re:rule based on current precedents, not future on (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578556)

So should judges to just sit on their hands and stall until the Supreme Court has told them how to decide the cases in front of them

No, judges should have a brain and not create laws where they don't exist. Government needs to be specifically allowed by law to do anything. If there is no law to specifically support an action, the government is barred from doing it. On the other hand people are allowed by birth to do anything provided there is no law to disallow it. A judge who doesn't understand this basic concept of FREEDOM should not be anywhere near a bench. Of course the above only applies to civilized countries. In the US however the government seems to be able to do whatever it wants, and if it gets in trouble it just creates laws for itself after the fact.

Re:rule based on current precedents, not future on (0)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578676)

Thank you for that heartfelt - but completely off-topic - rant.

Re:rule based on current precedents, not future on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579404)

So if there is no law specifically authorizing breathing on the part of Republicans in Congress, we can sue to have it stopped?

Re:rule based on current precedents, not future on (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578902)

From what I understand, the common action is to wait until te decision is made, so that as another /.'er said, the case doesn't have to be reviewed or appealed wasting even more time and money.

Totally different (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578384)

It's a state-owned car, same as a state- or company-owned computer.
Everyone knows it's legal/Constitutional for companies to eavesdrop on their own networks to snoop emails, web surfing, etc.
The company car is the same. It's not your car; it's provided for your official use with restrictions.

Re:Totally different (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578500)

No, it's not a state-owned car.

Re:Totally different (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578618)

It's a state-owned car, same as a state- or company-owned computer.

Uhhhh, rtfm, please. The car was registered to Robinson. It wasn't a state-owned car, except in the left-field sense that the state owns us all and we are merely wage slaves supporting the current regiem.

The Circuit courts have issued rulings on this that are applicable until the SCOTUS rules otherwise. The fine document contains the legal arguments against the claims that such tracking is a search or a siezure and thus violates the fourth amendment, both of which are quite rational and sound. Nobody has an expectation of privacy regarding the location of their vehicle when it is on the public streets, and there is no seizure.

Not relevant anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578444)

Who cares what happens in dumbfuckistan anyway? 300 million people is a fraction of China and is only a generation away from being totally obsolete. You had your chance, and you blew it. So go ahead and spy on each other to see who has exceeded their burger quota.

Re:Not relevant anyway (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578658)

ok have fun watching your family members commit suicide for the chance to own a iPhone

Re:Not relevant anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578956)

Funny but true. We're basically rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic here. The USA is doomed.

I call it first (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578450)

In before GVR [wikipedia.org] .

I'm no LEO, but... (2)

PunditGuy (1073446) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578458)

Wouldn't it have been easier and more efficacious to sit at the guy's work and see if he showed up or not? People can get to work a variety of ways, and a variety of people can use cars.

Clear argument (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578460)

From the ruling:

A person travelling in an automobile on public thoroughfares
has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from
one place to another. When [the co-conspirator] travelled
over the public streets he voluntarily conveyed to anyone who
wanted to look the fact that he was travelling over particular
roads in a particular direction, the fact of whatever stops he
made, and the fact of his final destination when he exited
from public roads onto private property.

I hate the idea of GPS tracking, but the judge makes an excellent point.

Re:Clear argument (1)

urulokion (597607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579090)

No that's isn't reasonable. A person does have some expectation of privacy from the government. It's abhorrent to think that the government can have casual access to my location over long periods of time. Note: I use the term casual. Using a lot of manpower to keep a a 24 hour surveillance on me isn't casual. Having to go before a judge to request a search warrant to install a GPS tracker isn't casual. Those are sufficient deterrent from letting the government go Big Brother on the population 24x7.

Also from the article, they has a reasonable suspicion the guy was committing fraud. That's a slam dunk for getting a search warrant. It would not have taken that much effort for an agent to full out the paperwork and submit it to the Court.. I do hope the SCOTUS slaps the government silly when it hands down it's ruling in the GPS case. The Feds in general try sqeeze an extra light year when you give 'em an inch. That trends needs to stop.

By that logic... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578488)

The government can plant devices in public places (e.g. a listening device with double-sided tape on the seat of your chair) that can then be transported by you (and not the government) into a private place.

A dangerous time has begun (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578496)

Where people in power no longer feel the letter of the law needs to be obeyed,
people are no longer entitled to a lawyer or trial and can be held indefinitely.

Re:A dangerous time has begun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578938)

Welcome to 5 years ago. Or more.

Seems complicated (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578532)

From the linked story, there are two issues before the Supreme Court:

1. Does using a GPS device to follow you around without a warrant violate your Fourth Amendment rights? There's extra language in there, too: A key point seems to be that when they're following you around, they're doing so on the public streets. The argument could be made that following your car is different from a wiretap in this respect, in that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you're talking on the phone at home, but you have no such expectation when you leave the house and go out in public. Is following you via GPS really any different than tailing your car visually?

2. Does planting the GPS device without a warrant, in and of itself, violate your Fourth Amendment rights? Maybe -- but one could argue that by planting the device, they have no more "searched" you than they would have had they driven past your house and seen the car in the driveway. They haven't done much more than a parking cop does when he puts chalk on the tire of your car. And they've haven't "seized" anything -- in fact, you now have something that you didn't have before.

These seem like complicated issues and I'm interested to hear what the Supremes think about them.

Re:Seems complicated (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579034)

From the linked story, there are two issues before the Supreme Court:

1. Does using a GPS device to follow you around without a warrant violate your Fourth Amendment rights? There's extra language in there, too: A key point seems to be that when they're following you around, they're doing so on the public streets. The argument could be made that following your car is different from a wiretap in this respect, in that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you're talking on the phone at home, but you have no such expectation when you leave the house and go out in public. Is following you via GPS really any different than tailing your car visually?

2. Does planting the GPS device without a warrant, in and of itself, violate your Fourth Amendment rights? Maybe -- but one could argue that by planting the device, they have no more "searched" you than they would have had they driven past your house and seen the car in the driveway. They haven't done much more than a parking cop does when he puts chalk on the tire of your car. And they've haven't "seized" anything -- in fact, you now have something that you didn't have before.

These seem like complicated issues and I'm interested to hear what the Supremes think about them.

Some problems with that argument:

1) Nowhere does the Fourth Amendment contain a caveat that implies our right to be free from search and seizure without warrant does not apply in public places; in fact, I would contend that ensuring the populace is able to travel freely is a big part of why that particular right is enumerated. Had the British Empire been able to track the movements of General Washington with such precision, you can bet there would be no such thing as the United States of America.

2) Even though it is often operated on "public streets," my vehicle is still private property and subject to applicable laws; placing a GPS device on my vehicle without permission or warrant, for the purpose of conducting surveillance, is no different than searching the interior of said vehicle without permission or warrant.

3) Can't speak for anywhere else, but I know in Missouri it is illegal for an officer to follow a vehicle for more than a proscribed distance without a warrant, else the officer can be prosecuted for harassment. So, unless the cops are pulling me over and removing/reattaching the device every few miles, or they have a warrant, this practice would be in flagrant violation of Missouri statute.

4) I don't know about you, but I park my car in my private garage, which is an enclosed structure on private property; Meaning, when I come home and park at the end of the day, the police have effectively placed a piece of surveillance equipment in my home without my permission or a lawful warrant.

Basically, my stance on this and all related issues is thus: If law enforcement has such a hard time obeying the Constitution by obtaining a lawful warrant, perhaps it's time we find them something more productive for them to do, or start culling the herd.

Re:Seems complicated (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579418)

1) Nowhere does the Fourth Amendment contain a caveat that implies our right to be free from search and seizure without warrant does not apply in public places;

This argument is irrelevant. Of course the fourth amendment applies in public places. The question is, is it either a search or a seizure to which the fourth amendment applies?

placing a GPS device on my vehicle without permission or warrant, for the purpose of conducting surveillance, is no different than searching the interior of said vehicle without permission or warrant.

Oh, but it is quite different. You even implicitely admit that by the terms you choose to use to refer to the actions. "Placing" vs. "searching". I can place a penny on the hood of your car without anyone beginning to think that by doing so I've conducted a search of any kind, other than the requisite search of my own pocket to locate a penny.

It is hard to call an act that involves nothing other than seeing what is plainly visible a "search", and in fact, "in plain sight" is a clear exception to the requirements to get a warrant. If you've left your bag of dope laying on the coffee table and you allow a cop to enter your house, when he sees that dope he can arrest you without having conducted a search or needing a warrant. If you stand in a public place and wave about what appears to be a bag of dope, the "plain sight" exception still applies, even though it is a public place.

And, I'll point out, your claim that placing the device is a search is a matter of opinion, and perhaps the crux of the SCOTUS case. The Circuit courts disagree with you.

...this practice would be in flagrant violation of Missouri statute.

MIssouri law is not federal law and applies nowhere except Missouri. In addition, one would have to consider what the actual law says, whether it says "illegal to follow a vehicle" or "illegal to monitor the actions of a vehicle", because attaching a GPS tracker is not "following". It is "monitoring". In other words, does the law prohibit an act of harassment or an act of tracking? How can you be harassed by something you don't know is taking place? A marked police vehicle following someone is clearly a visible act, and doing so for an extended period of time could reasonably be considered harassment. If I were to tape a penny to the underside of your vehicle and you didn't know it was there, am I harassing you?

I don't know about you, but I park my car in my private garage, which is an enclosed structure on private property; Meaning,

Meaning this is outside the scope of the case being discussed. And meaning that they would need a warrant to enter your premises to attach the device or remove it.

Would you argue that a parking ticket is unconstitutional, based on the hypothetical instance of you coming home and park at the end of the day, the police have effectively placed something on your vehicle that has arrived in a private place without your permission or warrant?

Basically, my stance on this and all related issues is thus: If law enforcement has such a hard time obeying the Constitution by obtaining a lawful warrant,

And the stance of the court is, quite properly, to decide if a warrant is indeed required for certain actions, not to pretend that the police need a warrant to do everything. Trying to argue that the cops need a warrant to do things that the constitition doesn't demand that they have a warrant to do is a losing battle.

Ez solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578550)

Send the judge to Guantanamo without a warrant or injunction on account of being anti-constitution and thus by default pro al-quada. Till then the same exact people work in law enforcement as myself (we are both human), so I should be able to gps their cars warrantlessly and see them coming if they try to gps mine is what would make sense. Criminals subverting this system? Fix society so people don't have to commit crime for bread.

Ah justice, where have you gone?

The SC cannot decide this for all cases either (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578586)

Truth, thankfully, is that a warrant is required to do a search, if a judge has a hard time understanding this, you can always go to a jury trial.

Just... (1)

stevenh2 (1853442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578636)

Put it in the employee contract that they can be tracked by GPS.

I wonder why they had to track his car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578666)

They could have asked his boss if he was present, or if he punched in. Was his boss, umm... never there?

OK, so maybe it was something like construction or inspection where he was supposed to visit job sites. There woulud still be a foreman or some person in charge on site. If he was the foreman, there would be workers who had some question or assignment that had to come from the foreman and... he was never there?

Anyway, you shouldn't have to track the car to prove somebody is not there.

Just get the warrant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578668)

Just because a warranty is required it doesn't mean it's not possible to do. GET THE WARRANT.

Defense Bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578672)

Since the defense bill was just signed there is no need for any warrants any more.

So let me get this straight.. (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578680)

Property ownership does not include the right to control what happens to that property. Is that what I am hearing this judge say? TFA does not specifically say it is or isn't a govt vehicle but I suspect it would say so if it were. What in the Hell have we become...

Re:So let me get this straight.. (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578886)

I went into it feeling the same way, but reading the judge's reasoning in the PDF (linked to in the original post, but also here [wired.com] for your convenience -- search for "tracking" to get to the relevant section), I can see that he gave it serious and fair consideration, including citing similar cases that predate GPS. I still feel that the way I'd deal with such a tracking device, should I ever find one, would be to attach it to another vehicle -- preferably a boat trailer or a garbage truck.

Re:So let me get this straight.. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579018)

Property ownership does not include the right to control what happens to that property. Is that what I am hearing this judge say?

We can't answer that. Only you can tell us what you "hear".

Can you elaborate on your first statment for us? In what way does attaching a GPS unit to a stationary vehicle parked on a public street control the property to which the tracker is attached? How does the existance of that tracker change in any way the use of the device to which it is attached (without the owner's knowledge?)

New business model! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578686)

1) Court rules it legal to install GPS trackers on cars you don't own, as long as they're publicly accessible.
2) Install 3G-connected GPS trackers on any unattended police cruisers.
3) Incorporate current live location of police vehicles into iPhone/Android app.
4) Profit!

Re:New business model! (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578920)

You forgot:

. . .

Re:New business model! (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578952)

Speaking as someone who had 4 speeding tickets last year, I'd pay for that.

easier way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578752)

Without reading anything:
Couldn't the employee used a different car to go to work?
Could they not have gone or called the office to see if "Phil" was in? Called a supervisor?
Asked for their calendar and make surprise visits?

Wouldn't any of these have been cheaper and more efficient then a GPS system?

Fundamental Misunderstanding of the Law (5, Informative)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578780)

The summary of this article is just wrong. The Supreme Court has not said that the issue is unclear - it has merely agreed to hear a case about whether a specific decision made by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia conflicts with existing Supreme Court precedent.

To the extent that you can infer anything from the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari, it is equally likely to conclude that they took the case in order to slap down the D.C. Circuit's novel approach to the 4th Amendment.

The existing precedent, by the way, is that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in our cars. As a result, it is not an "unreasonable" search or seizure to attach beepers or other devices to our cars in order to monitor our movements.

In fact, the judge in this case does an excellent job summarizing and applying the relevant case law. He points to a case from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which is the relevant circuit for St. Louis) clearly stating that putting a tracker on a car and then later retreiving it is not a constitutionally prohibited search or seizure.

Agree or disagree on whether we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our cars - the judge in this case acted properly. It would have violated another constitutional right - the one to a speedy trial - if he had simply delayed the issuance of his opinion until after the Supreme Court issues its (entirely discretionary) opinion.

What a silly article.

Re:Fundamental Misunderstanding of the Law (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579184)

I'd wager they agreed to hear the case not because they think the Columbia district ruling disagrees with the constitution, but more likely because there is a disagreement between the district courts. Several have ruled it's ok, and a couple have ruled it's not. Currently it's legal in some districts and illegal in others, that makes an issue ripe for review by the Supreme court to level the playing field.

Personally I think it should be illegal or that you should own it if you find it attached to your car. We can't have a bullshit world where it's legal for them to attach it, and illegal for you to remove it and throw it away.

and neither should you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578820)

... mostly because it's all meaningless. There is nothing that is going to stop the totalitarian regime. You can attempt to delay it beyond your lifetime, or you can stop fighting the Change(tm) and wait for the violence to begin.

Re:and neither should you (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578966)

Which regime? The one that started in 2000? or 1992? or 1988? or 1980? or 1968?

Depends whose car it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578888)

If it is attached to the person's private property, I think it should require a warrant. If it was a company car, no mercy.

But would it have been SOOO hard to simply keep track of when the person actually was at their workplace and/or working? Either he walked into the Treasurer's Office and did work, or he didn't. Until the Supreme Court rules on the matter, do it another way. At the very least it would be prudent to do it another way so you have a backup plan if the Supreme Court rules that it is unconstitutional to attach a GPS tracker without a warrant. Or, hell, call me crazy, but maybe the FBI could, oh, I don't know, actually GET a warrant?

Also, whoever was this guy's boss/manager should be fired unless they were the one reporting the fraud.

Turnabout Is Fair Play? (5, Insightful)

PatDev (1344467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578908)

Slashdot has so many comments boiling down to "Judges don't understand technology, and they look foolish when they rule on it anyways."

Then we have this article and it's responses, which basically boil down to "A bunch of technologists don't understand the law and the mechanism of precedence, and they look foolish when they comment anyways."

If it's a government car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578922)

They should be allowed to. If the person complains that their privacy would be violated when they are running errands or making personal trips, then they should use their own car or shut up about it. There are probably already rules against misuse of the vehicle, but not well enforced. Now if they actually broke into his/her property or trespassed in order to install it, then that is NOT ok. They should have called him/her in for service and installed the tracker or had it in the car to begin with, or swapped cars with one that has the tracker. And if this was not a company/government car at all, then it's NOT ok in any circumstance.

Missing data (1)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578946)

Was the vehicle a government car or personal?

I'm believe in privacy, but being supplied a company car, it is owned by the complainant they should be able to okay a tracker being attached.

If a personal vehicle and used for transportation to and from work then a court order should be required.

The gray area to me would be if a personal vehicle that employee is being compensated to use for work.

Slightly Misleading (1)

CapitalOrange (1552105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578950)

No where did it say the Judge didn't care about SCOTUS. He is not ignored a previous ruling. When a ruling comes out it will obviously take precident. However until then, the judge should interpret the law and rule accordingly. Decisions can take until early July, and if someone is stealing money, thats a long time to wait.

Shoot First, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579012)

Ask questions later..

Public Transportation? (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579442)

So "I was using public transportation" is no longer a valid defense?
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