This is great news, and completely shocking:
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that law enforcement authorities need a probable-cause warrant from a judge to affix a GPS device to a vehicle and monitor its every move.
The decision (.pdf) in what is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age, rejected the Obama administration’s position. The government had told the high court that it could even affix GPS devices on the vehicles of all members of the Supreme Court, without a warrant.
“We hold 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,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.
In a footnote, Scalia added that, “Whatever new methods of investigation may be devised, our task, at a minimum, is to decide whether the action in question would have constituted a ‘search’ within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Where, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search has undoubtedly occurred.”
In all, five justices said physically attaching the GPS device to the underside of a car amounted to trespassing and was a search requiring a warrant. The majority said “the present case does not require us to answer” whether police may employ GPS monitoring of a vehicle via an already onboard navigation system “without an accompanying trespass.”
Props to whoever can come up with the best excuse for the Obama admin coming out on the appallingly wrong side of this.