Supreme Court

Supreme Court Vacates State Court Ruling Which Allowed Lifetime GPS Monitoring of Sex Offender Via Ankle Bracelet

New arguments ordered in Fourth Amendment case.


Credit: Library of Congress

In 2014 the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a state court decision which said that the Fourth Amendment was not violated when state officials required a convicted sex offender to wear a GPS tracking device on his ankle for life. "Defendant essentially argues that if affixing a GPS to an individual's vehicle constitutes a search of the individual, then the arguably more intrusive act of affixing an ankle bracelet to an individual must constitute a search of the individual as well. We disagree," that court said.

In a per curiam opinion issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the North Carolina Supreme Court's ruling and sent the case back to state court for further proceedings.

"The State's program is plainly designed to obtain information," the U.S. Supreme Court observed today in Grady v. North Carolina. "And since it does so by physically intruding on a subject's body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search." But that is not the end of the inquiry, the Court continued. Because "the Fourth Amendment protects only unreasonable searches," the key question is whether "the State's monitoring program is reasonable." The North Carolina courts must now answer that question.

The Supreme Court's per curiam opinion in Grady v. North Carolina is available here.

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  1. If they didn’t even see it as a search, will they consider it anything but reasonable?

  2. I don’t mean for this to go down last week’s “judicial review, deference to the legislature” route, but the only way I can fathom a judge doesn’t see affixing a tracking device to someone’s body isn’t a violation of the 4th Amendment is because…they are elected. 4 the childrenz doesn’t have a significant “babytoucher” lobby to counter its effect on all elected individuals.

  3. If I were going to pick one piece of drafting in the Constitution to bitch about, it would be the 4th.

    Because of the way its drafted, it invites exactly what the courts are doing: the requirement for a warrant is undermined by the reading of the Amendment that says there is no restriction on “reasonable” searches.

    I think it was intended that no search would be allowed without a warrant, and warrants could issued only for reasonable searches. But its just not well drafted.

    1. Yes, it is poorly drafted; however, there is no affirmative grant of power given to the state in the text of the amendment. Furthermore, there is no provision in the constitution that specifies that powers are implied. Thus, if there is no unambiguous, unequivocal grant of power to do X, that is it and the power to do X cannot be implied. Same thing with the the interplay between the 5th and the 8th regarding the death penalty.

  4. the key question is whether “the State’s monitoring program is reasonable.” The North Carolina courts must now answer that question.

    Translation: Clean this shit up fellas. Sure the Fourth Amendment is dead, but at least make it do some Weekend at Bernie’s type stuff so the peasants don’t complain too loudly.

    “Sex offenders” are the easiest group of criminals in America to practice tyranny on because they have no defenders. Lifetime registration, lifetime “administrative” detention, and now, lifetime monitoring. And when it’s time to expand the class of people to subject these things on, the Court’s can say “Look! We have precedent! We love precedent!”

    1. Exactly. It’s disgusting how we treat them. It is lifetime punishment for wide range of crimes. Some people deserve it but does an 18 year old deserve it for statutory rape when he’s

  5. My roomate’s mom makes $74 /hr on the computer . She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her income was $20654 just working on the computer for a few hours.
    look at here now?????????????

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