The application for a stay pending the filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari was granted and Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer together issued a joint statement regarding the stay indicating that they welcomed the opportunity to revisit, and potentially reverse, Citizens United. Both Justices agree that if a writ of certiorari were granted, it would give the Court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citzens United should continue to hold sway.
Much of what was stated in the Stay Order written by Ginsburg and Breyer was paraphrased and seconded in a New York Times editorial entitled “The Court and Citzens United II” published on February 21, 2012.
Thus far amicus briefs have been filed by Free Speech for People, et al, Citizens United, Senator Mitch McConnell and the U.S Chamber of Commerce.
Lyle Denniston and Tom Goldstein , reporters for the SCOTUSblog, predict that there is still time for the US Supreme Court to act on this Montana case one way or another, before the current term ends in late June. The Court could either hear this case or simply overturn it. Goldstein in his blog indicated that if the Supreme Court were to grant a writ of certiorari to the Montana case rather than summarily reversing it, then the resolution of this case might have some impact on the presidential election.
The U. S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in U.S .v. Jones (Docket No. 10-1259) on Tuesday, November 8th. The facts of the Jones case were first presented in the DC District Court in 2006 and then in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.
The U.S. District Court of D. C. summarized the Jones case this way in their Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 1,2011 (2011 WL 3332856):
Antoine Jones the defendant in the above referenced case was found guilty of a conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of powder cocaine and fifty grams or more of crack cocaine on January 10, 2008. The Court sentenced Jones to life imprisonment.
On August 6, 2010, the Court of Appeals reversed Jones’s conviction on the grounds that the government had violated the Fourth Amendment by installing a GPS device on Jones’s vehicle without a warrant, 615 F. 3d 544,D.C. Cir. 2010.
The government thru the U.S. Solicitor General sought review of this decision before the Supreme Court, which granted its petition for a writ of certiorari on June 27, 2011.
The question presented in the Jones case was: did the law enforcement officers violate the Fourth Amendment by not getting a warrant before installing a GPS device on the defendant’s car? In a 2010 New York Times article written by Charlie Savage the author presented the question this way:
The issue is whether the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches covers a device that records a suspect’s movement for weeks or months without any need for an officer to trail him.
Savage went on to say that Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington all believe that their state constitutions require warrants be issued before GPS devices can be placed on automobiles.
Judge Douglas Ginsburg who wrote the Jones case opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals of D. C. questioned whether a secret 24-7 surveillance constitutes unreasonable searches? Ginsburg argued that a search that is for a limited period of time is not the same as a search that is for a more extended period of time.
Prolonged surveillance reveals types of information not revealed by short-term surveillance, such as what a person does repeatedly, what he does not do, and what he does ensemble…
A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups-and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts, U.S. v. Maynard ,615F.3d 544, at 562.
The questions to be addressed in the Supreme Court by Petitioner and Respondent are:
Whether the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device on respondent’s vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment.
Whether the government violated respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights by attaching the GPS tracking device to his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent.
Currently the state courts and the federal circuit courts are divided on whether warrants are required before a GPS device can be used, thus you have the ninth Circuit case US v. Pineda-Moreno, 591 F.3d 1212 and the DC Circuit Court in Jones case reaching different conclusions on the warrant question. The state courts in New York, Oregon and Washington have concluded that their state constitutions demand that warrants must be issued first before any GPS devices can be used issued.
In Commonwealth v. Connolly Judge Cowin concludes that although the US Supreme Court has decided that use of a “beeper” placed inside a vehicle to track that vehicle while traveling on a public road is not a search for Fourth Amendment purposes as in (U.S. v.Knotts),460 U.S. 276, 281-283. The Court has not yet determined whether installation of a GPS device on a vehicle constitutes a search under the 4th Amendment.
Over the past two months public dialogue about Ban the Box has increased, spurred on by the Charlotte City Council’s decision to send the issue to the Economic Development Committee. Several local media outlets exposed the issue to a wider audience, and helped Charlotteans begin to understand the importance and details of the proposed ordinance. [...]
In response to the North Carolina State Bar’s Ethics Committee’s Proposed Formal Ethics Opinion banning the use of release-dismissal agreements by state prosecutors, the Civil Rights Clinic, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, North Carolina Center for Actual Innocence, and the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic submitted letters to the Committee with pr […]
Sixth Annual CharlotteLaw Public Service Recognition Event and Reception The 2013 Public Service Recognition Event was held at the law school’s Suttle Avenue location on Wednesday, April 17th. The event honored the many public service accomplishments of CharlotteLaw students, faculty, … Continue reading →
While working with the Mississippi Center for Justice my eyes have been opened to the need in small communities such as this. There is a huge need for legal assistance and even if you can only provide an hour here … Continue reading →
This week has been quite the experience. As a group member of the BP Oil Spill tract, I helped canvass low-income apartment complexes to offer free legal help to those that were economically or medically injured by the disaster. I … Continue reading →
Cape Town – 10/02/12 Update: Today we nicknamed Chris “Grandpa” and he gladly accepted, he can be so serious sometimes! As it turns out, Cape Town must have some intense sleep effect on women, because Prof. Wofford and Nicole both missed their alarms Wednesday morning. Chris, naturally, was on time and ready to go by [...]
USA to Cape Town 10/01/12 We boarded the plane at 6:00am, the first 6:00am flight of three that we have this week. After we all acknowledged that no one is normal at 6:00am (Nicole throwing away perfectly good cheese, Chris refusing to eat, and Prof. Wofford intently engaged with her first of many caffeinated beverages [...]
Saturday, March 24, 2012 – Today we visited the Kumasi Children’s Home, which is a local orphanage here in Kumasi. This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to emotionally endure. The conditions of the place were unlike any orphanage then I had ever seen, then again the conditions of Ghana in general are [...]
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