Supreme Court Update

The Virginia Car Search Case

What the Court did: The Court ruled the federal Fourth Amendment does not bar police officers from searching and seizing evidence for which there is probable cause — even in connection with arrests that violate state traffic laws.

How they voted: This was a unanimous decision.

What it means: If you’re a crack addict it’s probably best not to drive around.

Winners: Federalism/states’ rights advocates. After all, individual states can impose greater search and seizure protections than those required by the U.S. Constitution; Virginia, for example, now has the option judicially to determine the above-referenced search violates its own constitution, or legislatively to exclude similar evidence from future state trials. Other winners include: criminal prosecutors, state attorneys general and law enforcement hawks.

Losers: Criminals. Liberal law professors. Criminal defense attorneys. Those who desire federal dominance over state criminal trials. Those who desire uniform laws.

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