Drug-Sniffing Dogs Take Center Stage At High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases Wednesday testing what, if any, limits there are to the police using drug-sniffing dogs. By the close of two hours of argument, it looked very much as though the court would rule against the use of drug-sniffing dogs without a warrant in one case, but not the other.

Miami-Dade Detective Douglas Bartelt and narcotics detector canine Franky give a demonstration in Miami in 2011

The protagonists in this story are Franky and Aldo. Franky, a chocolate Labrador, had a near-spotless record as a drug-detection dog in Miami-Dade County. The question is whether his human police partners violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches. After police got an anonymous tip, they took Franky up to the front porch of a private home, and when he alerted to drugs inside, the police used that as justification for getting a search warrant.

Drug-Sniffing Dogs Take Center Stage At High Court

 

Will Privacy Go to the Dogs?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized — 4th Amendment, United States Bill of Rights

Drug Sniffing Dog

 

This Halloween, the United States Supreme Court will devote its day to dogs. The court will hear two cases from Florida to test whether “police dog sniffs” violate our privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. These two cases have not yet grabbed many headlines, but the court’s decisions could shape our rights to privacy in profound and surprising ways.