The Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment places limits on law enforcement officers’ use of drug-sniffing dogs. In Florida v. Jardines, the state of Florida argued that it was admissible to use evidence obtained by a dog they brought to the front step of a house to sniff for drugs. Once the dog indicated there were drugs inside the house, officers obtained a warrant to search the house.
A Florida court ruled that it was not admissible to use the evidence, and the Supreme Court upheld the Florida ruling by a 5-4 vote. According to the Supreme Court, using a drug-sniffing dog to search a home or its surroundings constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, and a police officer must have a warrant.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion and said, “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.”
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