[Ed. – This is a very important post. Reading the whole thing is highly recommended.]
A painfully slim 5 – 4 ruling this week by the Supreme Court in City of Los Angeles v. Patel…struck down a Los Angeles ordinance that allowed police officers to inspect hotel guest registries for any or even no reason, and without a warrant. The ruling that the Fourth Amendment applies to businesses and that statutes may be declared unconstitutional on their face is consistent with principles as old as, and even older than, the Constitution.
Privacy advocates…have yet to acknowledge how Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s majority opinion is also a blueprint for a major power grab for the administrative police state.
What’s lost in the celebration is that Justice Sotomayor’s majority opinion recommends the use of judge-less “administrative subpoenas” for these searches. That will shift costs and burdens of proof from government onto unwitting or intimidated small business owners under judicial standards that give nearly complete deference to the government, and with no need to show probable cause for searches. Her majority opinion even seems to suggest that police departments may be given power to approve their own searches using administrative subpoenas instead of going to judges to obtain warrants.