Supreme Court Justices not receptive to the idea of an Orwellian state. - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Supreme Court Justices not receptive to the idea of an Orwellian state.

Supreme Court Justices not receptive to the idea of an Orwellian state.

“If you win this case, there is nothing to prevent the police or government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. “If you win, you suddenly produce what sounds like 1984.”

This powerful comment comes from today’s argument of U.S. v. Jones, the case that will determine whether or not police need a warrant to put a GPS tracker on someone’s car.

The case involves a D.C. nightclub owner, Antoine Jones. He was suspected of trafficking cocaine so a joint FBI-D.C. police team covertly attached a GPS device to his Jeep without first obtaining a warrant. After a one-hour public session, it seemed as though a majority of the justices appeared adamant that the officers should have obtained a warrant before placing the device on the suspect’s vehicle.

To get an idea of how the Justices are reacting to the case, read some of the brief recap over at

Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “I have serious reservations about the way in which this (device) was installed.”

Justice Antonin Scalia advised that “[w]hen that device is installed against the will of the owner of the car, that is unquestionably a trespass … an unreasonable search and seizure.”

And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested “[t]he government’s position would mean that any of us could be monitored whenever we leave our homes, so the only thing secure is the home.”

Let’s hope not! It’s bad enough that video cameras may be tracking our every move.

A ruling is expected by spring 2012 and if today’s arguments indicate how the Court is leaning, it seems like we may be on the verge of another win for privacy. Yay privacy.


Thank you to staffer Lev Gabovich for the link!

Amy Dunayevich

Amy Dunayevich is a third year student at Fordham University School of Law and is Fordham IPLJ's Technology Editor. Originally from the Detroit suburbs, Amy spent two years in the Peace Corps living in Eastern Europe without running water but with high-speed internet. Amy now lives in Brooklyn with her little black pug Roxanne. Although pursuing a career in the public interest, Amy finds intellectual property law to be extremely relevant, interesting, and important.