On November 8, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in United States v. Jones, a case examining the Fourth Amendment implications of warrantless GPS tracking of suspects’ vehicles. The Court directed the parties to brief and argue “whether the government violated respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent.”
On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the merits of the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision in United States v. Maynard, which held that law enforcement officers should have obtained a search warrant supported by probable cause before attaching a GPS tracking device to a car and using the device to track the defendant’s vehicle continuously for a month. In the Maynard decision, the court found that “a reasonable person does not expect anyone to monitor and retain a record of every time he drives his car, including his origin, route, destination, and each place he stops and how long he stays there; rather, he expects each of those movements to remain disconnected and anonymous.” The court further reasoned that “because the aggregation of the plaintiff’s movements over the course of a month was not exposed to the public, his expectation of privacy in those movements was reasonable,” and, accordingly, the use of the GPS device to monitor those movements defeated that reasonable expectation.