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US Supreme Court Rules Drug-Sniffing Dog Violated Florida Homeowner’s Rights

The United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a court decision throwing out the evidence seized when police used a drug-sniffing dog outside a house being used to grow marijuana. The court ruled that using Franky to investigate the house violated the Florida homeowner's constitutional rights.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said a house and its surroundings are a constitutionally protected area under the Fourth Amendment. Since the Miami-area homeowner had not given permission for police to use a dog to look for evidence, the results of the drug-sniffing canine’s search were not admissible as evidence.

"To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to — well, call the police," Scalia wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissent. He argued that police merely went to the house’s front door with the dog and that did not trespass on the property. He said people cannot expect that odors will not make it outside a house, where they can be detected by dogs, according to The Guardian.

"The conduct of the police officer in this case did not constitute a trespass and did not violate respondent's reasonable expectations of privacy," Alito wrote.

Dissenting along with Alito were Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer. Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan voted with Scalia in the majority.

Sources: The Guardian, NPR


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