Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas vs. Antonin Scalia on 4th Amendment and 'Reasonable Suspicion'

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Credit: C-Span

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major ruling today with profound implications for the Fourth Amendment rights of all persons who drive or ride in automobiles on public roads. At issue in Navarette v. California was a traffic stop prompted by an anonymous call to 911 claiming that a truck had driven the caller off the road. Going by the information supplied in that call alone, the police located a matching truck in the vicinity of the alleged incident and pulled it over on suspicion of drunk driving. That stop led to the discovery of 30 pounds of marijuana stashed in the truck.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether that single anonymous tip to 911 provided the police with reasonable suspicion to stop the truck. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas ruled that the "the stop complied with the Fourth Amendment because, under the totality of the circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated." While this is a "close case," Thomas acknowledged, it still passes constitutional muster. Joining Thomas in that judgment was Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.

Writing in dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia came out swinging against Thomas. "The Court's opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail," Scalia declared, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. It elevates an anonymous and uncorroborated tip above the bedrock guarantee of the Fourth Amendment. "All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police." That state of affairs, Scalia declared, "is not my concept, and I am sure it would not be the Framers', of a people secure from unreasonable searches and seizures."

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  1. Scalia is all pissed off as this doesn’t jive with the Police professionalism that’s cropping up all over the country.

  2. Thomas closed out his ruling with “hth. smooches!”

    1. I almost smiled. Not that your comment wasn’t very good, just thoroughly dismayed at this latest battering of the Fourth.

  3. Can we just go ahead, dispense with the bullshit, and repeal the 4th amendment? It would make me less angry than all this piecemeal destruction.

    1. I see where you’re coming from, Andrew, but as long as it preserves any freedom, however small, I say we hang on to that.

      1. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

      2. At some point, the minuscule freedom it protects isn’t worth the cover it gives to all the abuses.

    2. I don’t think that fits with the realpolitik model being used in Washington, where whistleblowers are spies, down is up, classification is transparency, war is peace, and money is speech.

  4. Wow, it’s almost as if liberals are being a bunch of deplorable racists when they accuse Thomas of being Scalia’s puppet.

    1. I eat my words. At least on this ruling.

      1. All you’d have to do is just read an opinion written by Thomas to see that he has a profoundly different view of a lot of areas of the law compared to Scalia.

        But asking liberals to check their contempt for the Uncle Tom on the bench and read is just too much to ask it seems.

        1. They do have an interesting system. It seems they have about one in every 100,000 actually read something, but not very well, and then those pseudoreaders tell the rest of the gang about it. The fanciful fiction becomes embedded in reference material, as footnotes, and all sorts of places. It is the Love Canal story every day.

        2. But asking liberals to check their contempt for the Uncle Tom on the bench and read is just too much to ask it seems.

          I think calling someone and ‘Uncle Tom’ is worse than calling them a ‘nigger’. It offends me to think a black man who doesn’t arrive at the same tribe approved dogma, manner of speaking or behaving et cetera, is worth less than a ‘normal’ black man. I dare say that the fear of being labeled an ‘Uncle Tom’ has held blacks back from educating themselves, improving their lives, improving their community and taking their rightful place in civil society.

          1. IF I was black I would take that “epithet” as a compliment. Think of the balck conservatives that have been derided as such : Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell. And, if memory serves, Uncle Tom is the hero of that story, never bowing to the torment of the hated Simon LeGree.

  5. No 911 call is anonymous, unless it is from a public pay phone and there are no surveillance cameras around.

    1. That said, if the 911 caller wishes to remain anonymous and not press charges, hang up on them.

    2. Can’t you get pay-by-the-minute phones cash too?

      1. The cell phone variety I mean.

        1. It will go into e-mode and give away your GPS coordinates. Unless the call is for a medical emergency, the 911 operator should ignore those calls. There is too much potential for abuse.

          1. That is true, and discussed in the ruling. Thomas’s opinion argues that it is of significance, since people aren’t really anonymous, so the danger of bad tips for nefarious purposes is lessened (the cops could follow up and prosecute). Scalia argues that it doesn’t really matter, especially since people still believe that they are anonymous.

            1. My concern is shitty detectives with throw-away phones creating probable cause where there is none.

              1. Well, reasonable suspicion first. Which is *really* easy to create by lying no matter what.

                1. You said it in many fewer words than I did. It is just another really easy way to lie.

              2. ^^This?

            2. The cops are only going to follow up and prosecute when it is in their favor to do so. Real world example: A girl left her iPhone on the counter when she was using the restroom at a local bar. A jokester grabbed it and called 911 (which you can do, even when the phone is locked) and said that there was a terrorist taking hostages. They traced the phone call and GPS’ed it to within 5 feet of where the call was made. Detectives then pulled the security camera footage from the bar, identified the guy, and charged him. He’s absolutely fucked, and is going to do serious jail time.

              A counter example is one where police are investigating somebody, and aren’t making enough progress. An “anonymous” phone call comes in to 911 reporting “suspicious” behavior, and the police get to force entry to the property and have a look around without a warrant. In this case, nobody will investigate the origin of the 911 call, and I would consider the defendant lucky to even find out about the call during discovery.

          2. It will go into e-mode and give away your GPS coordinates.

            So what? Unless you have a transporter and a time machine to go with it, there are plenty of locations where you are never going to know who made the call and the caller is long gone before anybody looks.

            1. That’s very true on a rural highway. It’s a different story in the city. See my example above.

              1. Your example was in a freaking bar with cameras. The whole world, even a whole city, is not a freaking bar full of cameras. [spoken in Penn Jillette voice]

                1. I live in the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the country, so I acknowledge that I probably see more cameras in a day than most Americans.

            2. Hard to do a GPS trace on that old Star-Tac I keep handy for “emergencies”.

  6. Totality of the circs. I expected that from Scalia.

      1. No wait, Thomas is dunphy?

        Or are we all dunphy?

        *rocks back and forth weeping gently*

    1. Totality of the circs. I expected that from Scalia.

      Thomas wrote that.

  7. So if a cop wants to search your car, he just has to call in an anonymous tip to 911 that it was driving badly?

    1. This ruling totally opens the door for cops to pull people over for no good reason.

      1. Considering how it is physically impossible to follow all the traffic laws on the books, if a cop wants to pull you over all he has to do is follow you long enough.

        1. Or he can just say you had a tail or plate light out. Which then repairs itself when you go to check it.

          1. That’s happened to you too?

            1. Yeah. And more than one person that I know.

              1. And that was one of the 4 or so times I’ve ever been pulled over in my life.

                1. My wife once got pulled over just because her car us “ugly.” Read: not nice enough to be driving in the neighborhood she was in.

      2. They’ve been able to do that for quite a while. This just gives them one more tool.

    2. They used to do that on the cop shows all the time. Police Story, Hill Street Blues, etc. (NEVER on Barney Miller!) Movies also. Always wondered if they did it in real life too.

    3. So all a trucking company needs to do to fuck with it’s competitors is to make some anonymous 911 calls? Nice.

    4. I thought the same. plenty of cops planting or falsifying evidence. peace

  8. Thomas is so disappointing to me. He talks such a good game on liberty, and seems so intelligent on some cases, yet continually allows for statist bullshit like this.

    1. Scalia can be the same at times (albeit to a much lesser extent than Thomas). Even Kennedy has his moments.

    2. No justice is perfect for liberty. It’s definitely agonizing that our rights are subjected to a crap shoot of how Kennedy or Roberts is feeling that day.

    3. No justice is perfect for liberty. It’s definitely agonizing that our rights are subjected to a crap shoot of how Kennedy or Roberts is feeling that day.

    4. He’s better than the other eight. That’s it. The ideal is far, far away, as he rubberstamps stuff he shouldn’t, too.

  9. If the vehicle being suspected of driving someone off the road is a BMW, I consider that more than sufficient evidence to meet not just any reasonable suspicion, or even probably cause, but beyond reasonable doubt.

  10. Anonymous calls justify SWAT raids. Why can’t an anonymous call justify something as innocuous as a traffic stop? As long as you aren’t doing anything wrong…

  11. because, under the totality of the circumstances

    So I had to stop and walk away from the computer for a moment after coming to this part..

  12. If the cops had found poor illegal immigrants instead of evil drugs, I wonder if the ruling would have gone the other way.

    1. Given that Ginsburg/Sotomayor/Kagan were already part of the dissent, I doubt it.

      1. You don’t think they would have been more sympathetic towards immigrants?

        1. I’m not sure you’re reading the result right. They (along with Scalia) were already saying this was not a justifiable stop under the 4th amendment. The immigrants would have to turn one of the 5 justices who gave the opinion of the court, and I doubt it would.

          1. You’re right.

            1. OTOH, if they found guns, well, perhaps some of the libs would have ruled it was okay, you’re saying?

              1. Basically.

        2. Breyer has a pretty well-developed history of bending over backwards for the cops in 4th amendment cases. Alito, Thomas, and Roberts are much more pro-search than Scalia.

    2. Maybe I’m being naif, but for all their failings, I don’t think that the SC justices are quite that bad yet.
      It’s easy to invent interpretations of the law and constitution to suit your ideology, but it is less easy to ignore facts such as the reason behind the search, which had nothing to do with what was actually found in the end.

  13. Same lineup as Maryland v. King, a similar 4th Amendment case from last year. That was the “if you get arrested (probable cause, not conviction), can the cops take your DNA to put in a database” case.

    That Scalia opinion has some of the lines most skeptical and cynical about how police operate in reality of any decision I’ve read. No claims of professionalism here.

    1. Maybe he reads Hit & Run.

  14. under the totality of the circumstances

    Does this mean that Clarence Thomas was really Dunphy all along?

    1. **smooches, makes-out with Morgan Fairchild while on his way to a weightlifting competition at a nude beach**

      1. where you will be lifting barbells without using your arms or legs.

  15. Well, I have to admit that just from reading the headline I thought the positions would be the reverse. A rare endorsement of the 4th A. from Scalia. Maybe he’s been reading Balko?

    1. See Maryland v. King from last year or any other 4th amendment case from last year. Justice Scalia was on the pro-defendant side in every 4th Amendment case last year– and of course Breyer was on the prosecution side.

  16. I am skeptical of the original 911 call. This reminds me of “parallel construction”, wherein a lead generated by the DEA’s NSA-style phone record database is disguised to generate probable cause without leading back to its shady origins.

    “Bob, a drug trafficker in Mexico has been making calls to this trucker. Go to the pay phone on the corner and say what I wrote down on this piece of paper. Then eat the paper.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article…..9R20130805

    1. Yeah, and Scalia comes very, very close to saying that the police would just do that, too.

      1. That is absolutely what they will do. Why not? If the tip is anonymous, how could you ever prove it never happened?

        Scalia doesn’t go far enough here. We are not just in danger of being pulled over because of a malicious busybody, we are in danger of being pulled over by any cop mendacious enough to lie about having a tip, which is effectively any cop.

        1. They can do that anyway. They’ll just say you crossed a line or failed to signal or were driving too fast or too slow or looked at your lap like you were texting or were driving erratically or whatever boilerplate lie they decide to put on the report.

          1. I sat on a jury for a drunk driving case a few years ago, and we kept hearing testimony from the cops that the driver was “slow to respond” when they finally turned on the lights to pull her over. It wasn’t until the very end of the trial that the defense bothered to ask the cop how slow her reaction was. “Oh, about 3 seconds.” Apparently if you don’t instantly slam on the brakes it’s just proof you’re wasted.

            1. Unless there is an accident in which someone other than the drunk was hurt or had their property damaged, I would never vote to convict on a DUI case. Fuck them.

            2. Apparently if you don’t instantly slam on the brakes it’s just proof you’re wasted.

              Last time I got pulled over, I apparently did it too quick and suprising the cop, who blew past me and then had to sheepishly back up to get behind me again.

            3. Then this might happen.

              From my town. Those are the motorcycle officer’s legs sticking out from the back seat of the car he tried to pull over.

  17. Does anybody know what Thomas drives? I’m thinking perhaps everybody in the DC area should be on the lookout for him and perhaps make a few calls regarding his driving? Oh right, do members of SCOTUS even drive personal vehicles today or are they wrapped within a nice protective cocoon 24×7?

    1. He definitely drives a big ole’ RV and travels around the US when the SCOTUS is off session in the summer.

    2. It needs to go further. All 5 Justices that sided with Thomas need this treatment. They are all accomplices to this ruling. All Justices that rule in opposition to liberty, even if the Court’s final decision is in favor of liberty deserve to be treated as if their horrible decision only impacted them negatively. Anyone that ruled in favor of Kelo deserves to have their home taken for them and given to a business, preferably one that they also ruled against in a prior decision. We need someone more vigilant in the destruction of personal freedom than your average cop or politician. We need….a home owner’s association.

      1. I agree. They have cars don’t they? Anonymously tip the cops. It wouldn’t work after the cops figured out who they were. Laws are for little people after all. It would work before that though.

  18. I would submit the real problem is the lower standard for searches of vehicles which is the result of the horrific “reasonable expectation of privacy” doctrine. Strictly speaking, I am not sure Thomas isn’t correct here. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause. I honestly can’t see why an anonymous tip couldn’t create reasonable suspicion. If someone calls the police and says “hey this car has pot in it”, it is reasonable I think to at least suspect it might be true.

    Scalia of course is right that that is a “freedom destroying cocktail.” Scalia is wrong for the reason it is. The freedom destroying cocktail is not this ruling. It is the concept that people have less privacy in their cars than they do in their homes and in the larger sense that their right to privacy is governed by society’s expectations (which is in practice what judges think such expectations are or should be).

    1. If someone calls the police and says “hey this car has pot in it”, it is reasonable I think to at least suspect it might be true.

      Although that’s not what happened here. What happened here is that someone called and said, “This guy tried to run me off the road.” Justice Scalia goes in depth saying that “hey, maybe he just disliked her ‘Make Love, Not War’ bumper sticker,” and saying that only a small fraction of “nearly running someone off the road” incidents are necessarily drunk driving, as far as he knows. (He randomly offered 0.1%.)

      The stop here went from “running someone off the road” == “reasonable suspicion of drunk,” which lead to the stop and eventually the search. But the tip wasn’t about the pot at all.

      1. It doesn’t matter. Once the cop pulls you over, the cop then can use whatever he lawfully observes as a basis for probable cause. This is why the “reasonable suspicion” standard for pulling someone over and not needing a warrant to search a car is so corrosive.

        1. Correct, and in this case the cops asserted the odor of marijuana, which is fairly believable here since they found 30 lbs, though obviously they can always claim to smell something.

          1. Unless they had a dog, I find that totally unbelievable. That much marijuana would have been sealed pretty tight. Doubtful anything but a dog could have smelled it. They lied.

            1. Quite possible. But once they find 30 lbs, well, no defense lawyer is going to save you from that aspect.

            2. Not necessarily. That stuff reeks. I’ve had bags that were vacuum packed in those FoodSaver bags that still stank. The only way I’ve found to keep the stuff from stinking is a mason jar, and that’s not a practical way to transport 30lbs.

              1. why officer, it’s just my canned peaches.

                1. Hah, I was going to make the point sarcasmic made and follow up with: the only time I’ve been in the presence of mass quantities that didn’t stink, the ganja was packaged in sealed cans labeled as vegetables.

              2. I’ve heard rumors that 4 layers of vac-seal bags with some gross spray deodorant between each layer is pretty good at containing any odor.

      2. Seems to me that trying to run someone off the road might be illegal on its own, drunk or not. Is that not reason to pull someone over? I suppose the anonymous call makes it a bit more problematic.

        What I want to know is why the smell of pot is reason to search in CA. It’s not like it’s hard to get a medical MJ card there.

        1. The problem there is the anonymous tip only described the truck. The cops followed a truck matching the description, never knowing if they had the right one.

          1. I suppose I could stop being lazy and read more of the article. For some reason, I had the impression that they had the plate number.

            1. It’s really a short opinion. 24 pages total for opinion and dissent, and that’s double spaced and wide font.

          2. You had better hope that you don’t drive a white F150 or a silver Chevy Impala (or whatever the most popular car makes and colors are).

            1. I think the most common vehicle on the road is the Toyota Camry.

              1. Or is it just the most often stolen car?

                I believe that F-150 was the best selling vehicle (not just truck) for a number of years.

        2. One driver’s word against another. And, as Justice Scalia points out, there are possible legitimate reasons to swerve on a road, such as a pothole, deer, or other such.

          A minor one time incident that involved no actual property danger– not worth it on the basis of an anonymous tip.

        3. Most Police Departments here have a verification policy. If you have weed on you, you show the Rx and go on your way. If you happen to have 30 lbs, there is not much you can do….

        4. Seems to me that trying to run someone off the road might be illegal on its own, drunk or not. Is that not reason to pull someone over?

          Sure. But an anonymous accusation that someone broke the law should never arise to “reasonable suspicion.” Its a fucking anonymous accusation. What could be possibly be a weaker reed than that? If that is sufficient, then the words “reasonable suspicion” have no meaning.

          1. Yeah, I agree with what you say. It just struck me that there was a lot about drunk driving and how serious that is, but little about the actual potentially dangerous driving that supposedly happened.

    2. I honestly can’t see why an anonymous tip couldn’t create reasonable suspicion.

      The problem is corroboration. No anonymous tip should ever create reasonable suspicion unless and until it has been corroborated.

      Meaning, in this case, that the tip, standing alone, cannot create reasonable suspicion. If the cop had observed actual suspicious behavior once his attention was drawn to the truck, sure. And, I know, the cop will lie about that, but still.

  19. Scalia’s dissent ends very well:

    The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying
    cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that
    anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so
    long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and
    (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving
    necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunken?
    ness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a
    traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped,
    forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out
    not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the
    caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his
    identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but
    merely called in a traffic violation?and on that point his
    word is as good as his victim’s.

    Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of
    our freedom to come and go as we please without police
    interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not
    allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry
    stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so
    for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us
    on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of hav?
    ing our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of
    drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a
    single instance of careless driving. I respectfully dissent.

    1. He is absolutely dead on. I only wish this would cause him to realize that we were all in danger of that from the moment the court endorsed “reasonable suspicion” as the standard for the cops to pull someone over.

      If I get pulled over by the cops, my freedom is curtailed. Saying “well it is just a stop and the cops doing their job” doesn’t make that infringement any less.

      1. I wonder, how much did the *average* citizen of, say, East Germany have to actually deal with the authorities, face-to-face, on a daily basis?

        Put another way, is it only a police state if you’re literally getting a jackboot to the face on a daily basis, or is the real nature of the evil the atmosphere of random, arbitrary punishment, that leads one to rationally conclude that the only way to avoid being targeted is to always keep one’s head down and escape the notice of the people in charge?

        1. or is the real nature of the evil the atmosphere of random, arbitrary punishment, that leads one to rationally conclude that the only way to avoid being targeted is to always keep one’s head down and escape the notice of the people in charge?

          From what I have read of Nazi and Soviet dissidents, this is the one.

          1. From what I have read of Nazi and Soviet dissidents, this is the one.

            This doesn’t always work either.

            1. Right – see the end of Ceausescu…

        2. I suspect that the average East German had fewer ways that he could get cross with the authorities and was, assuming he kept his mouth shut about politics, less likely to get harassed by the cops than the average American.

          The East German police were horrible but were really only concerned about people’s politics or open objection to the government. American police in contrast are obsessed with enforcing a huge number of laws that govern nearly our entire lives. When an East German went to his car to drive to work in the morning, he worried that one of his coworkers or friends had fingered him to the police and that he was being followed. When an American does the same, he worries that he is not speeding, that no one notices him talking on his cell phone, that he doesn’t have a tail light out, that he is wearing his seatbelt, that is isn’t following too closely or doing something out of the ordinary that might attract a cop’s attention. When the average American sees a cop on the road his heart jumps to his throat and he hits the breaks and freezes for a moment in fear that the cop might have a reason to pull him over and fine him severely or worse.

          I would never insult the victims of communism and say the American has it worse. He doesn’t. I would however scream in horror at the thought that you could even begin to compare the two. You can.

          1. I think this is the great innovation of our government – the realization that compliance has value for its own sake.

            Content is irrelevant, ideological or otherwise. This is what Communist governments always failed to understand – ideology only engenders resistance.

            Mindless compliance with a million insignificant regulations keeps us mindful of the State in a much less offensive and resistance-inspiring way.

    2. Yeah, that’s better than I expect from Scalia. But here’s what I don’t get. How is possibly being drunk worse than trying to run someone off the road? It seems to me that the latter is a much more serious crime. It could be just forgetting to check a blind spot, I suppose, but if deliberate, isn’t that assault?

      1. It is a strange disconnect – the purpose of drunk driving laws being to keep the drunken people from harming others with their reckless driving.

        Now we’re saying, “well, sure there was some dangerous reckless driving, but the REAL crime here is that that guy was DRUNK!”

        1. Because that’s a part where Scalia is saying “worst case.” He prefaces it by saying that there are many circumstances where another driver could have swerved for non-malicious reasons as well (pothole, deer, etc.).

          If no damage resulted and there’s no evidence, and the cops don’t witness any more behavior in 5 minutes, it’s not really worth arresting people for a “he said/she said” case over it.

  20. 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. Unless an anonymous tipster thinks they might have had a drink that day. Then you know … whatevs.

  21. I admit to not reading the case, but how did the anonymous 911 call lead to them finding the drugs? Just because they have reasonable suspicion to stop the guy for drunk driving, does that automatically give them the right to search the car for drugs? Seems like at best they could stop the driver, ask for license and registration and do a field sobriety test.

    1. They followed the car, which did nothing suspicious, for 5 minutes. Then they stopped the car, and claimed to notice the obvious smell of pot. Then they found 30 lbs of pot (so I’m willing to believe them on the smell part, although, yes, in general they can make up smelling it.)

      1. If they followed the car for 5 minutes, doesn’t that pretty much negate any reasonable suspicion they may have from the 911 tip? If someone is impaired, how do they drive for 5 minutes without giving some kind of sign of impairment?

        1. Yes, that was exactly Justice Scalia’s point. He said that they effectively disproved the anonymous tip (just as someone’s tip claiming that “baled marijuana” was openly visible in the cab of a truck would be disproved by following a truck and not seeing it, thus disallowing a search.”) The 5 minutes of following it should have made them convinced that, at worse, it was a one time aggressive driving act rather than drunk driving.

          1. I obviously have not read the opinion or dissent. That this point is not blindlingly obvious to all 9 SCOTUS members is scary.

            1. What should also be blindingly obvious is the fact that the call was made by an enemy or competitor of the driver, and was specifically meant to result in the arrest of the driver and seizure of the marijuana.

              1. I suspect the call was made by the cops themselves.

        2. What John Thacker said. If you really suspected that the driver was drunk, why would you not pull him over immediately and give a field sobriety test. The more he drives drunk, the greater danger he is. The whole thing is a complete lie and a sham.

        3. If they followed the car for 5 minutes, doesn’t that pretty much negate any reasonable suspicion they may have from the 911 tip?

          Never let a good crisis tip go to waste.

          1. Get off my tip!

          2. Don’t know any details really about the case, but here’s what I imagine:

            Cops know the guy is transporting large amounts of MJ via various non-legal sources that won’t stand up in court.

            Cops follow guy for a while to see if they can find an excuse to pull him over.

            After a few minutes, one of the cops feels an “anonymous tip” coming on. Once truck is firmly pulled over, one cop says to the other “Gee, I feel like I smell pot, don’t you?”

            1. Sounds plausible, but if they were to do that, why wouldn’t they have at least lied and said that the car did something suspicious in those 5 minutes?

              1. They could have done that in any case. They probably just didn’t realize the law on the point was unsettled.

  22. That’s a really shitty decision by Thomas. He’s gradually sliding from ‘best on the bench’ to ‘least worst.’

    1. He’s good on Confrontation Clause and some other things, pretty bad on Fourth Amendment.

      All the Justices have their quirks.

    2. He is the worst.

      And what happened to Breyer? We are used to conservatives shitting on civil liberties – but Breyer?

      1. So you don’t care about the Confrontation Clause?

        Breyer and Alito are the worst.

        1. I knew of the principle but not that Clause by name.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confrontation_Clause

          Thacker, you’re the best poster here. I don’t care if I violate internet rules by saying so.

      2. We are used to conservatives shitting on civil liberties – but Breyer?

        Funny, I’m used to liberals and conservatives taking turns shitting on civil liberties.

        The libs like to crap on the 1A and the 2A. The cons seem to have a preference for the 4A and the 5A.

      3. Breyer is terrible on most police and criminal defense issues. There are quite a few bad civil rights 5-4 decisions that are the product of Breyer joining the majority and either Scalia or Thomas joining the minority.

      4. Breyer is pretty notoriously pro-cop.

        1. Yeah, Breyer is pretty clearly the worst justice on the Court as far as libertarians are concerned.

  23. I guess when you live in a privileged DC bubble for decades, it’s natural that you forget police are scum. So this is understandable, if not forgivable.

    1. But the Capitol Police are deferential to the Justices!!!!!

  24. Jeez, the damage one could do with a burner phone, calling in anonymous complaints about the driving of local pols, local extremist big shots, local union and business creeps, etc.

  25. under the totality of the circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated.

    Oh, FFS! What if “the totality of the circumstances” was Officer Snuffy’s “professional gut feeling”? Would *that* be OK, Clarence?

    1. The totality of the circs was

      (1) One uncorroborated anonymous call, plus

      (20 Absolutely zero observed reckless or drunken driving.

      No trace whatsoever of what used to be the test, namely “specific and articulable facts”, “taken together with rational inferences from those facts”. The only facts and inferences here are that the driver was observed doing nothing suspicious.

      IOW, one uncorroborated anonymous call is sufficient “reasonable suspicion” to search someone. No facts need apply.

      The 4A is officially done.

  26. I’m definitely opening a swingers club called The Anonymous Tip.

    1. *slow clap*

  27. Those city officials in Costa Mesa CA better be on their best behavior from now on, and engage the services of a limo company.

  28. Strange. I thought Scalia and Thomas were joined at the hip, brothers in the secret Koch society.

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