In recent Fourth Amendment cases, involving smart phones (Riley) and GPS (Jones), the Justices seem to really get it. Why are they so affected by these cases? As I’ve discussed before, these are cases that could affect them. During the Jones case, the Justices worried about someone putting a GPS on their car. During Riley, the Justices spoke of their own use of smart phones. When it’s personal, the presumption of liberty kicks in.
In recent remarks in Oklahoma, Justice Sotomayor made this point quite explicitly.
There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don’t like the fact that someone I don’t know…can pick up, if they’re a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property.
There you have it. She’s worried about a drone flying over her property. Therefore, it is important to think about.
Justice Sotomayor won’t need to worry too much, because as I understand it, the District of Columbia, where she lives, is a drone no-fly zone.
As an asides, I am getting really tired of the Justices speaking out of turn, and weighing in on issues that will soon come before the Court. When Justice Sotomayor says “That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy,” she is really signaling how she feels about the issue. This isn’t anything remotely close to a case for her recusal, but her comments focus exclusively on “privacy,” and refers to it as “government intrusion,” rather than, I don’t know, “law enforcement,” or “governmental surveillance,” speaks volumes.