Those who criticize Justice Antonin Scalia’s jurisprudence, specifically for his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, the recent Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, should take a closer look at his legal philosophy and legal opinions before passing judgment. Perhaps the most important protection that our Constitution affords us as citizens of the United States is the right to be free from unreasonable searches as seizures. In two recent opinions authored by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court found that an individual’s property rights outweighed the government’s interest in an intrusion.
In United States v. Jones (2012), Justice Scalia wrote for the Supreme Court in holding that the police’s placement of a GPS device on an individual’s car without a warrant for the purpose of tracking the vehicle violated the prohibition against unlawful searches a seizures. In my home county, this case had a profound effect on the prosecution of a aggravated burglary suspect. In Florida v. Jardines (2013), Justice Scalia wrote for the Supreme Court in holding that the use of a drug-sniffing dog at the front door of a person’s home constituted a search and could not be supported without a warrant. Justice Scalia quipped regarding the implied permission a person has to approach another’s door and knock or ring the doorbell: “This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters.”