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Supreme Court Rules that Warrants Needed for GPS Tracking (Scalia writes 4th amendment ruling!)
DCist ^ | 1/23/12 | Martin Austermuhl

Posted on 01/23/2012 9:47:35 AM PST by Recovering_Democrat

In a case that stemmed from an investigation by D.C. police and the FBI of a local drug dealer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that police across the country need a warrant if they want to track suspects using GPS monitors.

In the ruling, which was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court found that even though the case involved a GPS unit that was attached to a car that was out in the open, it still constituted a "search" under the language of the Fourth Amendment:

It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case: The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted. The case grew out of a 2005-2005 investigation into Antoine Jones, a D.C. club owner who was suspected of drug trafficking. As part of the investigation, police were given the green light to place a GPS tracker on Jones' car within 10 days and inside city limits. The GPS tracker was placed outside of the city and the time-limit allowed by the warrant, but Jones was still arrested after he led police to a Maryland stash house in which they found cocaine, crack and $850,000 in cash. Jones was later convicted for conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.

Jones appealed the conviction, saying that the use of GPS on his car violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. On August 6, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with him, overturning his conviction. Beyond the issue of the GPS being placed on Jones' car outside of the scope of the warrant, the court found that "prolonged GPS monitoring reveals an intimate picture of the subject's life that he expects no one to have --short perhaps of his spouse."

In today's decision, the Supreme Court sustained the lower court's opinion.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: "The Government usurped Jones’ property for the purpose of conducting surveillance on him, thereby invading privacy interests long afforded, and undoubtedly entitled to, Fourth Amendment protection."

In his own concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said that while short-term searches may be permissible, the extent of the GPS monitoring Jones was subjected to made it qualify as a search:

[T]he use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy. For such offenses, society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not—and indeed, in the main, simply could not—secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period. In this case, for four weeks, law enforcement agents tracked every movement that respondent made in the vehicle he was driving. We need not identify with precision the point at which the tracking of this vehicle became a search, for the line was surely crossed before the 4-week mark. It goes without saying that this case would never have come to be had the GPS tracker been placed on Jones' car a day earlier and within city limits.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Constitution/Conservatism; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: 4thamendment; districtofcolumbia; fourthamendment; freedom; gps; gpstracking; lawsuit; privacy; ruling; scotus; search; searches; survellance; warrantlesssearch; warrants
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...call me "hopeful" that Hussein's appointments of Sotomayor and Kagan are backfiring.
1 posted on 01/23/2012 9:47:44 AM PST by Recovering_Democrat
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To: Recovering_Democrat

This and the backup on SOPA is VERY IMPORTANT and is showing that in the internet/computer age, you have to be doubly vigilant to protect freedom.


2 posted on 01/23/2012 9:51:35 AM PST by LS
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To: Recovering_Democrat
I would like to see this extended to include the GPS data coming from my cell phone. Monitoring the GPS coordinates coming from my cell phone is no different than conducting a wire tap. Use of that data in a legal context should require an explicit warrant before the data is admissible as evidence in a legal proceeding.
3 posted on 01/23/2012 9:55:46 AM PST by Myrddin
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To: Recovering_Democrat

I’m actually surprised by the ruling, as the government has been only too happy to trample on our 4th amendment rights in the name of the so called “war on drugs”.


4 posted on 01/23/2012 9:58:50 AM PST by Scouts Honor
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To: Recovering_Democrat
"...call me "hopeful" that Hussein's appointments of Sotomayor and Kagan are backfiring."

I don't think you can read that into this case. One would expect these Justices to take a very broad view of 4th amendment protections. Criminal law is the one place liberal justices are hostile to big, activist government. But don't get me wrong, I don't this this was that broad a reading of the 4th amendment and was pretty much an easy slam dunk decision on the result. Scalia has always been pretty good on the 4th amendment and it doesn't surprise me at all sided with the liberals on the Court here.

5 posted on 01/23/2012 9:58:57 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Recovering_Democrat

Great news.


6 posted on 01/23/2012 9:59:23 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: circlecity

They also stood up for a church school to fire someone that wasn’t acting according to their beliefs.

Recently, I have been very surprised with this court.


7 posted on 01/23/2012 10:01:29 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Myrddin

“I would like to see this extended to include the GPS data coming from my cell phone. Monitoring the GPS coordinates coming from my cell phone is no different than conducting a wire tap. Use of that data in a legal context should require an explicit warrant before the data is admissible as evidence in a legal proceeding. “

And let’s not forget FasTRAK/FastPass toll transponders. Here in Northern California CalTrans was forced to provide bags for your transponder that prevents it’s being tracked. It’s a pain in the ass to have to take it out to use it, but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that they don’t know your every movement. Then, there are all the “smart utility meters,” another violation of your right of privacy.


8 posted on 01/23/2012 10:02:13 AM PST by vette6387 (Enough Already!)
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To: Myrddin

It thought that a court order was necessary for law enforcement to obtain cell phone tracking data for evidence. I think that a warrant is required if law enforcement wants to get real time access to cell phone tracking data.


9 posted on 01/23/2012 10:02:44 AM PST by businessprofessor
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To: redgolum

Last week they refused to hear a couple of cases against public school students who wrote objectionable comments about their principals on a website. The lower courts upheld the students’ rights and the Supreme Court refused to hear the cases, but my newspaper said the Court issued a statement warning the states not to interfere with students’ First Amendment rights.

I was amazed because the students’ actions were pretty outrageous.


10 posted on 01/23/2012 10:07:14 AM PST by goldi
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To: businessprofessor

they can probably circumvent that by not admitting they found someone that way. if it’s not admitted in evidence, just claim they used a person to track them down via good old shoeleather ,surveillance and paid informants.

who would be the wiser?


11 posted on 01/23/2012 10:07:34 AM PST by WOBBLY BOB (Congress: Looting the future to bribe the present.)
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To: businessprofessor

they can probably circumvent that by not admitting they found someone that way. if it’s not admitted in evidence, just claim they used a person to track them down via good old shoeleather ,surveillance and paid informants.

who would be the wiser?


12 posted on 01/23/2012 10:07:34 AM PST by WOBBLY BOB (Congress: Looting the future to bribe the present.)
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To: bamahead

Liberty ping.


13 posted on 01/23/2012 10:07:38 AM PST by Gene Eric (C'mon, Virginia -- are you with us or against us?!)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf


14 posted on 01/23/2012 10:09:08 AM PST by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

uh..and what about the GPS I carry on my cell phone?

Can they track me on THAT without a warrent?


15 posted on 01/23/2012 10:09:08 AM PST by G Larry (We need Bare Knuckles Newt to fight this battle.)
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To: redgolum
"They also stood up for a church school to fire someone that wasn’t acting according to their beliefs."

Again, in that situation the plaintiff had Pastoral duties and was for all intents and purposes an associate pastor. Thus, making the decision that the employer was protected by the first amendment wasn't a real tough call. That's why it was a 9-0 decision. Wait and see where they line up on the first 5-4 or 6-3 decision and then you can draw your conclusions.

16 posted on 01/23/2012 10:09:47 AM PST by circlecity
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To: redgolum

Also, since it is an election year I wouldn’t put it past those two Justices to cover Obama’s back by toning down their jurisprudence. They don’t wan’t Obama’s opponant to be able to point to any radical opinions of theirs as Exhibit A as to why it’s dangerous to re-elect Obama and give him the chance to appoint more radicals. Don’t worry, I have no doubt that Kagan at least will prove to be every bit as extreme as our greatest fears.


17 posted on 01/23/2012 10:14:59 AM PST by circlecity
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To: Recovering_Democrat

Why the concern for the privacy of local drug dealers when the privacy of law abiding citizens is daily violated?

http://neighbors.whitepages.com/

What else do they know about us?


18 posted on 01/23/2012 10:15:15 AM PST by 353FMG
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To: Scouts Honor

Nothing new here, he is part of the (holders people) protected class.


19 posted on 01/23/2012 10:15:59 AM PST by sniper63 (If Obama pats himself on the back anymore, his shoulder will dislocate.....)
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To: vette6387
Then, there are all the “smart utility meters,” another violation of your right of privacy.

BS. It is not an invasion is you consent to it.

A private contract for a specific pricing schedule for cheap electric service is NOT the same as the police collecting evidence on you for a criminal case.

If you are a free man, you can disconnect your electric service, get gas appliances and heat and run your lights off of solar/batts.

But 21st century Americans are such coddled candy asses that they think all their luxuries (which didn't even exist for the founders) should be given to them for free.

20 posted on 01/23/2012 10:27:41 AM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

I suspect that Scalia is concerned about the rights of citizens against illegal search and seizure, whereas Sotomayor is probably concerned about the rights of illegal immigrant drug dealers.

Never mind, the decision is correct. If the law wants to track drug dealers, they should get a warrant.


21 posted on 01/23/2012 10:28:24 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

Thank God! I was really worried about this one. It could have been 5-4 against, and one or two of “our guys” could have gone against. This gives me some hope that sanity may be restored some day.


22 posted on 01/23/2012 10:36:10 AM PST by monkeyshine
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To: redgolum

Me too. Especially in the unanimity of the court in protecting constitutional rights.

This is another personal blow to obama and I think we will see an ultimate smackdown in the obamacare case when his own justices vote aginst his so called landmark legislation.


23 posted on 01/23/2012 10:42:46 AM PST by SpringtoLiberty (Liberty is on the march!)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

This is the second unanimous vote in as many weeks. I’m blown away.


24 posted on 01/23/2012 10:48:41 AM PST by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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To: Pan_Yan

ping


25 posted on 01/23/2012 10:48:58 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Real solidarity means coming together for the common good."-Sarah Palin)
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To: 353FMG
Why the concern for the privacy of local drug dealers when the privacy of law abiding citizens is daily violated? http://neighbors.whitepages.com/ What else do they know about us?

Are you implying that http://neighbors.whitepages.com/ is run by government authorities?

Who is 'they'?

26 posted on 01/23/2012 10:49:53 AM PST by The Electrician ("Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase.")
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To: Myrddin
My thoughts also...

Things like "it's my car, it's my data".

The idea that they can have my driving info, or cell info and use it against me..well, it denys the right to take the fifth.

But the bottom line is usually MONEY...like insurance companies.

27 posted on 01/23/2012 10:52:03 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: businessprofessor

The difference between car and phone in this instance is the phone does not hold the gps coord unless there was an app placed on the phone. Good luck telling me i have to add a app to let the police keep up with me.


28 posted on 01/23/2012 10:58:26 AM PST by Baseballguy (If we knew what we know now in Oct would we do anything different?)
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To: Recovering_Democrat; P-Marlowe

I have mixed feelings on this one since a warrant had previously been issued for an area and an amount of time.

I don’t think police should randomly be permitted to track people. At the same time, they must have had enough evidence to convince a judge to give them the initial warrant.

As near as I can tell, the judge erred on the side of geography and duration, and I find it odd that the druggie was comfortable after that time and in a different location.

Moreover, we are now 100% CERTAIN that the guy was traffiking drugs. There is no doubt. He is guilty as sin of the charge.

Therefore, the police were reasonable in their suspicions.


29 posted on 01/23/2012 11:00:28 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Pray Continued Victory for our Troops Still in Afghan!)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

On the other hand, tracking the GPS in his cell phone is a different matter. He is broadcasting his location to the world and the world can track him


30 posted on 01/23/2012 11:04:08 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: Cicero

"...Sotomayor is probably concerned about the rights of illegal immigrant drug dealers."

I haven't read the opinion, but this apparently was one of her concerns:

"It’s worth pointing out a particular passage in a concurring opinion from Justice Sonia Sotomayor in which she questions the reasonableness of the “third party doctrine” — a legal principle that anything you’ve shared with a third party is no longer private, and thus loses its Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures..."

(Not a criminal context obviously, but I thought her placing such concern over privacy matters with voluntary disclosures was interesting given the amount of private information that people will be compelled to share under Obamacare...)

31 posted on 01/23/2012 11:09:21 AM PST by Qbert ("The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry" - William F. Buckley, Jr.)
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To: WOBBLY BOB
Okay. Fair enough. But your scenario involves law enforcement officials committing perjury, which is already against the law.

Setting aside for a moment the things dishonest people can accomplish when they decide to lie under oath, the supreme court's decision in this case is very good news for the people of the United States and for the 4th Amendment. It certainly beats the alternative.

32 posted on 01/23/2012 11:16:49 AM PST by WayneS (Comments now include 25% MORE sarcasm for no additional charge...)
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To: sam_paine
What? Didn't you hear?!

High speed internet service has been deemed a basic human right!

That being the case, it goes without saying that 'smart' utiltiy meters are unconstitutional...

; - )

33 posted on 01/23/2012 11:20:48 AM PST by WayneS (Comments now include 25% MORE sarcasm for no additional charge...)
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To: Myrddin
This was a good ruling, IMHO. As others have noted, the fact that the ones executing the search warrant that _was_ issued violated it from Day 1 according to the article.

You said, "I would like to see this extended to include the GPS data coming from my cell phone. Monitoring the GPS coordinates coming from my cell phone is no different than conducting a wire tap. Use of that data in a legal context should require an explicit warrant before the data is admissible as evidence in a legal proceeding."

Do you mean extending it to the point that not even the cell companies can keep track of the "pings" and can only turn that ability "on" when they are presented a search warrant, or do you mean that the police can only access the data with a warrant? I think the cell companies keep a pretty tight rein on the data they do get from your phone "pinging" towers, at least it sure seems that way with the amount of time it takes to actually OK releasing "last ping" data for some active missing persons cases I've read about in the last few years.

I'm wondering if according to your thinking unless there was a search warrant obtained to get the "last ping" info. if it would then be inadmissible in any subsequent trial of suspected perpetrators and such (sometimes used for placing the victim in the same vicinity as the kidnapper/murderer or establishing a more accurate timeline).

I definitely agree that there absolutely needs to be a search warrant before police should be able to use any type of GPS tracking on anyone suspected of a crime. I'm just wondering what kind of restrictions or allowances should be made in specific circumstances.
34 posted on 01/23/2012 11:24:27 AM PST by LibertyRocks
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To: WayneS

true- 4th Amendment win!

luvs me some Scalia.


35 posted on 01/23/2012 11:24:32 AM PST by WOBBLY BOB (Congress: Looting the future to bribe the present.)
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To: SpringtoLiberty
This is another personal blow to obama and I think we will see an ultimate smackdown in the obamacare case when his own justices vote aginst his so called landmark legislation.

And hopefully too some Republicans as well. Like the ones who support keeping databases on law abiding persons purchases or the ones who want black boxes or {snitch boxes} installed in vehicles. Just because we possess the technology to do something does not mean government needs it as a tool to use on us without Constitutional limitations including probable cause and proper use of a warrant.

36 posted on 01/23/2012 11:25:06 AM PST by cva66snipe (Two Choices left for U.S. One Nation Under GOD or One Nation Under Judgment? Which one say ye?)
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To: Myrddin
Are you engaged in illegal activities?
37 posted on 01/23/2012 11:25:16 AM PST by verity (The Obama Administration is a Criminal Enterprise.)
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To: goldi
Last week they refused to hear a couple of cases against public school students who wrote objectionable comments about their principals on a website. The lower courts upheld the students’ rights and the Supreme Court refused to hear the cases, but my newspaper said the Court issued a statement warning the states not to interfere with students’ First Amendment rights. I was amazed because the students’ actions were pretty outrageous.

Outrageous or not, they're still allowed to express themselves, as long as they weren't using school equipment to do so, it's really no business of the school. If they were engaging in libel, that might be a different story, but that's not what they were accused of, was it?

38 posted on 01/23/2012 11:37:27 AM PST by kevkrom (Note to self: proofread, then post. It's better that way.)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

wait till obamacare, that is where they ware waiting to rule.

Then there is now forcing religious institutions to do abortions, contraceptives etc


39 posted on 01/23/2012 11:37:38 AM PST by manc (Marriage is between one man and one woman.Trolls get a life, I HATE OUR BIASED LIBERAL MEDIA.)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

What a muddle this ruling seems to be - 4 weeks of 24x7 GPS tracking is not okay, but some lesser amount of GPS tracking might be okay? What huh?


40 posted on 01/23/2012 11:40:49 AM PST by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: WayneS; vette6387
Not true, at least in my case. I came upon a guy changing out both of our utility meters and he said I didn’t have a choice.

Get a clue, pal. You DO have a choice. Tell that guy to leave the meter out. That's called "disconnecting service."

Switch your heat and stove to propane or natural gas. Spend thousands of dollars on some solar panels to run some meager lighting.

What? You refuse to spend thousands of dollars to protect your God given and Constitutionally protected right to electricity?

LOL. What a joker.

In other words, cheap electricity and letting the power company log data on when you run your air conditioner is small price to pay for the convenience of not actually exercising your rights.

Imagine some of the fools in American History who paid such prices with their lives!

Reminds me of the old joke:

Man asks a woman if she'd sleep with someone for a million dollars. Thinks, "well, I guess I'd be crazy not to."

Man asks if she's sleep with someone for $20. She cries, "What kind of woman do you think I am!!!"

"Well miss, we've already established what kind of woman you are. Now we're just haggling over price."

41 posted on 01/23/2012 11:41:05 AM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: vette6387

I’d want to see google stop driving around taking photos of our houses, roads etc

What gives them the right to take a photo of your house, your car and you if you are in the front or back garden or you walking down the road?

Then sometimes trying to get in touch with Google and have them take your house or car or yourself off their Google earth crap can be annoying and sometimes for some I am told very time consuming

I see up in NY they used Google to peep into peoples yards and see if they had permits for certain things like pools etc


42 posted on 01/23/2012 11:41:28 AM PST by manc (Marriage is between one man and one woman.Trolls get a life, I HATE OUR BIASED LIBERAL MEDIA.)
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To: Myrddin
I would like to see this extended to include the GPS data coming from my cell phone.

While this ruling doesn't specifically apply to that situation it was mentioned. The ruling said GPS data from phones would come under "expectation of privacy." In other words, if you share your GPS data with a third party, the government may be able to get it without a warrant. The court also left room for GPS monitoring for durations significantly shorter than the four weeks in question. Today's ruling will be the first of many, but this was a very strong one, being unanimous.

43 posted on 01/23/2012 11:43:11 AM PST by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: manc
What gives them the right to take a photo of your house, your car and you if you are in the front or back garden or you walking down the road?

As long as those things are visible from a public space they are fair game. However, special equipment like telephoto or anything else that can see better than the naked eye can't be used.

44 posted on 01/23/2012 11:46:34 AM PST by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: cva66snipe
And hopefully too some Republicans as well. Like the ones who support keeping databases on law abiding persons purchases or the ones who want black boxes or {snitch boxes} installed in vehicles.

I'd love to see an honest evaluation of how much it costs to have all those snitch boxes and other gubbermint mandated gadgets installed in our cars. Not just the cost of the gadgets, but also the cost of maintaining them and passing the annual inspections.

I had a container of chainsaw gas in the back of my car, the little brain thought it was a leak in the fuel fill pipe, and it cost me quite a bit to get it to stop signalling me with the check engine light. And I couldn't pass inspection until it was fixed.

Likewise, my wife's car needed a new catalytic converter (and some other stuff that the blocked converter screwed up), and that cost a fortune.

45 posted on 01/23/2012 11:53:11 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Moonman62

Seems like a futile ruling. In the not too distant future, they will be able to obtain a specially selected judge’s digital-warrant-to-blackberry in minutes; backdated to fit any police report when necessary. There’s far too much money being lost that could be used for important things, like pension padding and overtime pay.


46 posted on 01/23/2012 11:55:58 AM PST by T. Jefferson (Batton down the hatches, full speed in reverse)
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To: Recovering_Democrat
Well well! If this court rules like this over a simple GPS signal, New York Citys' plan to electronically frisk everyone won't stand a chance.
47 posted on 01/23/2012 11:57:12 AM PST by Lazamataz (Norm Lenhart knows nothing about reloading.)
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To: Recovering_Democrat
Well well! If this court rules like this over a simple GPS signal, New York Citys' plan to electronically frisk everyone won't stand a chance.
48 posted on 01/23/2012 11:57:18 AM PST by Lazamataz (Norm Lenhart knows nothing about reloading.)
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To: The Electrician

The website may not be run by government but it certainly is a useful tool to be used by it.


49 posted on 01/23/2012 11:57:52 AM PST by 353FMG
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To: SpringtoLiberty
Damn! And the decision was unanimous!!!!

I actually think we have a tiny chance of rolling back the Police State.

50 posted on 01/23/2012 12:00:18 PM PST by Lazamataz (Norm Lenhart knows nothing about reloading.)
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