U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Police Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs to Carry Out Warrantless Searches During Traffic Stops
February 19, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC — In a 9-0 decision in Florida v. Harris, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that police may use drug-sniffing dogs to carry out warrantless searches during routine traffic stops. Citing studies raising serious doubts about the reliability and training of drug detection dogs, The Rutherford Institute had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the practice of using drug detection dogs as the sole basis for warrantless searches unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. Published scientific studies show that drug dog alerts are wrong as much as 56% of the time, and are heavily influenced by the biases of the dog’s handler.
The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Florida v. Harris is available here.
“This ruling undercuts the entire basis of the Fourth Amendment, which was designed to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “When dog sniffs, which have proven to be unreliable, are considered probable cause for police to search your property without a warrant—whether it’s your home, your car or your person—then none of our rights are secure.”