John Paul Stevens on Drugs
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Ford 1975)
A Texas Border Patrol Agent boarded a bus to check the immigration status of its passengers. He squeezed a canvas bag above Mr. Bond’s seat and noticed that it contained a “brick-like” object. After petitioner admitted owning the bag and consented to its search, the Agent discovered a “brick” of methamphetamine.
The Fourth Amendment protects against government intrusion that upsets an “actual (subjective) expectation of privacy” that is objectively “reasonable.” But an individual cannot reasonably expect privacy in respect to objects or activities that he “knowingly exposes to the public.” Nor can I accept the majority’s effort to distinguish “tactile” from “visual” interventions. Whether tactile manipulation (say, of the exterior of luggage) is more intrusive or less intrusive than visual observation (say, through a lighted window) necessarily depends on the particular circumstances, [which would] lead to a constitutional jurisprudence of “squeezes,” thereby complicating further already complex Fourth Amendment law. For these reasons, I dissent.
Indianapolis operates vehicle checkpoints on its roads in an effort to interdict unlawful drugs. Mr. Edmond was stopped at such a checkpoint, and filed suit, claiming that the roadblocks violated the Fourth Amendment’s rule that a search or seizure is unreasonable absent individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.
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