SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
UTAH, PETITIONER v. EDWARD
JOSEPH STRIEFF, JR.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF UTAH
[June 20, 2016]
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG joins as to Parts I, II, and III, dissenting.
The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent.
So much for that fruit of the poisoned tree.
After today, what this decision does is allow the police to now litter a poor or low-income neighborhood with tons of mickey-mouse tickets and citations hoping to get at least some of them to go to warrant.
When they do, the police can then use these once-illegal stops as pretext for looking for these same tickets gone to warrant. If and when they find them, the evidence the police obtain from these now legal arrests and searches can be used against these citizens in court, and about anything the police can find in a search without what was once known as PC.
That’s some tree of liberty we’re growing. Poisoned, but still rising high.