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OPINION
May 23, 2011
One of the most important functions of the Supreme Court is to put legal limits on police excesses. But the court failed to fulfill that responsibility last week when it widened a loophole in the requirement that police obtain a warrant before searching a home. The 8-1 decision came in the case of a search of an apartment in Kentucky by police who suspected illegal drugs were being destroyed. The police, who said they smelled marijuana near the apartment, had knocked loudly on the door and shouted, "This is the police.
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NATIONAL
April 27, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court's new champion of the 4th Amendment, is likely to play a crucial role Tuesday when the court hears this year's most important search case: whether the police may routinely examine the digital contents of a cellphone confiscated during an arrest. Civil libertarians say the stakes are high because arrests are so common - 13.1 million were made in 2010, according to the FBI - and smartphones hold so much private information. Under current law, officers may search a person under arrest, checking pockets and looking through a wallet or purse.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2011
From Katz vs. United States to the present, landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings on 4th Amendment issues 1967, – Katz vs. United States: The user of a public phone booth had an expectation of privacy; law enforcement needs a search warrant to electronically eavesdrop. 1968, Terry vs. Ohio: The Exclusionary Rule, barring use of illegally obtained evidence against a defendant, cannot be invoked to exclude the products of legitimate and restrained police investigative techniques such as "stop and frisk" searches of outerwear.
OPINION
February 26, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
When an occupant of a home refuses to allow police to search the premises, officers should keep their distance until they obtain a warrant based on probable cause. In a case from Los Angeles, the Supreme Court on Tuesday needlessly weakened that important 4th Amendment principle. The 6-3 decision eviscerated a 2006 ruling in which the court ruled that police must respect "a physically present inhabitant's express refusal of consent to a police search" even if a spouse or roommate gives consent.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
Sunset Strip bookie Charlie Katz suspected the feds had bugged his apartment, so he would amble over to a pay phone outside where Carney's hot dog joint now stands to call in his bets to Boston and Miami. It was 1965, a time when phone booths had four glass walls and a folding door, allowing Katz to seal himself off from eavesdroppers. Or so he thought. FBI agents planted a recording device at the booth and taped his dealings, leading to his conviction on eight illegal wagering charges.
OPINION
April 29, 2001 | AKHIL REED AMAR, Akhil Reed Amar, a law professor at Yale Law School, is author of "The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction."
Picture this: Returning home from soccer practice with her two young children, a mother slowly drives her pickup down a quiet street. A cop notices the car's occupants are not wearing seat belts, and pulls the vehicle over. Yelling at the mother as he approaches, he scares the kids. He tells her that she is going directly to jail, and refuses to allow her first to take the crying youngsters to a neighbor's house. As the incident unfolds, friends arrive and shepherd away the youngsters.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 5, 1992 | DAVID SCHEIDERER
This being the first Monday in October, the U.S. Supreme Court reconvenes today to consider and rule on the laws of the land. With that in mind, PBS serves up an hourlong report about the relationship between the high court and law enforcement. Narrated by Roger Mudd, "Search and Seizure: The Supreme Court and the Police" (tonight at 9 on KCET-TV Channel 28 and KPBS-TV Channel 15, 8 p.m.
OPINION
February 26, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
When an occupant of a home refuses to allow police to search the premises, officers should keep their distance until they obtain a warrant based on probable cause. In a case from Los Angeles, the Supreme Court on Tuesday needlessly weakened that important 4th Amendment principle. The 6-3 decision eviscerated a 2006 ruling in which the court ruled that police must respect "a physically present inhabitant's express refusal of consent to a police search" even if a spouse or roommate gives consent.
OPINION
August 20, 2012
Even many who cherish the "original meaning" of the Constitution recognize that provisions drafted in the 18th century must be interpreted in light of changing technology. That is especially true of the 4th Amendment's guarantee of the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. " When the amendment was adopted, unreasonable searches involved physical trespass. But in 1967 the court ruled that the 4th Amendment was violated when federal agents affixed a wiretap to the outside of a telephone booth being used by a gambler.
OPINION
December 18, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Six months after Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was indiscriminately collecting the phone records of Americans and holding on to them for years for possible use in terrorism investigations, a federal judge has rightly ruled that the program probably violates the 4th Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. In a powerful opinion released Monday in Washington, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon castigated what he called an "almost-Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States.
OPINION
February 16, 2014
Re "Obama's undiplomatic picks," Editorial, Feb. 13 It has been a crushing disappointment to this reader, who voted twice for Barack Obama, to follow instance after instance of our president's lack of insight, foresight or hindsight. But it isn't only his poor ambassador picks that trouble me. It started with the outrageous selection of two men - Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, who were instrumental in bringing about the changes that led to the financial meltdown - to manage our monetary policies.
OPINION
January 26, 2014 | By Bruce Ackerman
President Obama's recent speech on government surveillance is dominating the conversation, but he won't be making the key decisions on the future of the National Security Agency's collection of domestic phone data. The statutory provision authorizing these massive sweeps expires June 1, 2015. If Congress simply does nothing, the NSA's domestic spying program will soon come to a screeching halt. The question is whether Americans will seize this opportunity to gain critical perspective on the crisis responses of the George W. Bush years.
OPINION
January 5, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
As President Obama ponders a task force's recommendations for reining in electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, a federal judge in New York has allowed another government agency to invade the privacy of Americans. Judge Edward R. Korman ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents may confiscate and examine the contents of laptop computers of Americans returning to the country even if they lack reasonable suspicion that the devices contain evidence of criminal activity.
OPINION
December 18, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Six months after Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was indiscriminately collecting the phone records of Americans and holding on to them for years for possible use in terrorism investigations, a federal judge has rightly ruled that the program probably violates the 4th Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. In a powerful opinion released Monday in Washington, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon castigated what he called an "almost-Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States.
OPINION
June 9, 2013
Re "Feds tracking all U.S. calls," June 7 In her defense of the government's collection of data from nearly every phone call in the U.S., Senate Intelligence Committee head Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, "It's called protecting America. " I have always believed that the foremost duty of elected officials is to support and defend the Constitution. In this instance, the rights that need protection are guaranteed by the 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
OPINION
June 8, 2013
Re "Court goes too far on DNA," Editorial, June 4 The U.S. Supreme Court got it absolutely right in finding that it is constitutional for DNA to be collected at the time of arrest and checked against a national database of unsolved cases. The Times' claim that doing so violates an arrestee's 4th Amendment rights is off base. The 4th Amendment prohibits only unreasonable searches, and case law through the years has found it reasonable for law enforcement to collect a number of identifying traits at the time of arrest.
OPINION
January 5, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
As President Obama ponders a task force's recommendations for reining in electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, a federal judge in New York has allowed another government agency to invade the privacy of Americans. Judge Edward R. Korman ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents may confiscate and examine the contents of laptop computers of Americans returning to the country even if they lack reasonable suspicion that the devices contain evidence of criminal activity.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 18, 2012 | By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
A Los Angeles ordinance that requires hotel owners to keep guest registries and permit police to inspect them without a search warrant does not violate the constitutional rights of the owners, a divided federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 against a motel owner whose guest registries had been searched by Los Angeles police without consent. Judge Richard R. Clifton, writing for the majority, said hotel guests have no legal right to expect registries will be kept private, and the owners failed to prove the searches violated their 4th Amendment protections from unreasonable searches.
NATIONAL
June 6, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A newly published court order has confirmed what key members of Congress said they had known for years - that the government had routine access to the dialing records for hundreds of millions of phone calls in the United States. The report raised new questions about secret surveillance and unchecked government power. Q: What information is being obtained? A: The order called it "metadata" that consisted of telephone numbers and the times and duration of calls, but not the contents of the phones calls or the names and addresses of those who owned the phones.
NATIONAL
April 17, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Police officers usually must have a search warrant before requiring a suspected drunk driver to have his blood drawn, the Supreme Court said Wednesday. In an 8-1 decision, the justices rejected Missouri prosecutors' contention that police should have the freedom to act quickly and dispense with a warrant because alcohol dissipates in the blood. Instead, the court said it would hold fast to its view that the 4th Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches" means the police usually need a warrant from a magistrate before invading a person's privacy.
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