Gun Owners Scores a Victory


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Individual Privacy in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously sided with Gun Owners of America in finding that the placement of a Global Positioning Device on an automobile constitutes a “search” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.

The majority opinion in U.S. v. Jones was written by Justice Antonin Scalia and follows GOA’s reasoning to throw out the “reasonable expectation of privacy” test which has been thought to be the dominant Fourth Amendment standard in recent years.

The Obama Administration argued that because the police could theoretically follow Antoine Jones’ car, he had no “reasonable expectation of privacy,” and thus, placing a GPS device on his car was justified. GOA argued, however, that this constituted an “unreasonable search and seizure” which violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

This decision will have dramatic ramifications for gun owners. Indeed, the Court looked to the Founders’ intentions with respect to the Fourth Amendment, which, until the latter part of the 20th Century, was understood to restrict the ability of police to “trespass” upon the persons or property of Americans.

“This is no less than a fundamental transformation of American jurisprudence concerning searches and seizures,” according to GOA’s Executive Director Larry Pratt. “And it is a transformation which throws out fake modern jurisprudence and restores the Founders’ intent.”

The “reasonable expectation of privacy” test flowed from a Justice Harlan concurring opinion in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). Gun Owners of America had argued that the Supreme Court should jettison that decision by an activist court, and a majority of the justices agreed.

“The ‘expectation of privacy’ test for searches and seizures arose without support in the text or historical context of the Fourth Amendment, and has proven wholly inadequate to protect the American people from their government,” argued GOA.

Four members of the court

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