Let Loose the Dogs


Today the Supreme Court ruled that using a drug-sniffing dog during a routine traffic stop, even when there is no reason to suspect the presence of contraband, does not constitute an unreasonable search. "The dog sniff was performed on the exterior of respondent's car while he was lawfully seized for a traffic violation," wote Justice John Paul Stevens for the six-member majority (which no doubt would have had an additional justice if William Rehnquist had participated). "Any intrusion on respondent's privacy expectations does not rise to the level of a constitutionally cognizable infringement."

As I suggested in November, when oral arguments in this case were heard, the result might have been different if the dog sniff had required detaining the motorist longer than necessary for the ticket, which the Court might have deemed an unreasonable seizure.

[Thanks to David Penn for the link.]