Imagine a society in which cops have the power to place GPS tracking devices on thousands of vehicles, arbitrarily, without need for a single warrant.
We're already there, says the Eighth Circuit Court.
In upholding the conviction of Josue Acosta Marquez, (a.k.a. Martin Contreras-Pulido) in an interstate marijuana-smuggling case, the Circuit Court judges wrote that federal agents and Iowa cops did nothing wrong when they planted the electronic-monitoring device on a pickup truck used by Marquez while it was parked at a Wal-Mart. Police accessed the unit seven times to change the batteries -- always in a public place -- and tracked the pickup as it drove between Des Moines and Denver.
Since anyone can see a vehicle parked or driving in public places, the use of electronics to enhance surveillance doesn't violate Fourth Amendment rights regarding unreasonable search and seizure, wrote Justices Roger Wollman, James Loken and John Gibson.
No warrant neeeded. And there's nothing stopping cops from planting those suckers as often and wherever they like, says the Eighth Court judges, (adding that they're "mindful of the concerns" about the May 21 ruling. In a chilling aside, the justices write: More »