Lower Courts Navigate the Supreme Court’s Decision in United States v. Jones
Lauren Britsch, J.D. Candidate
As a fellow blogger noted last month, the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones leaves much to be desired by way of direction to lower courts. So, how have lower courts since reacted?
A more thorough discussion of the Jones decision itself is available here. To briefly summarize, Jones held that “the Government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search’.” However, there were three opinions with different perspectives on the issue: 1) Justice Scalia’s majority opinion, which focused on the physical intrusion of the defendant’s property, his car, though in combination with the collection of information; 2) Justice Alito’s concurrence, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, which would have decided the question based on the defendant’s reasonable expectation of privacy; and 3) Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence (she also joined Justice Scalia’s opinion), which expressed some agreement with both of the other opinions.
Trial courts are already grappling with how to decipher and apply the reasoning of Jones. Not surprisingly, some courts have had to deal with different technologies under this framework.