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  Justices Invoke '1984' During GPS Case Arguments
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ContributorHomegrown Democrat 
Last EditedHomegrown Democrat  Nov 08, 2011 05:45pm
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AuthorNina Totenberg
News DateTuesday, November 8, 2011 11:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionGeorge Orwell's 1984 was very much on the minds of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as the justices grappled with a question that pits the use of modern technology in law enforcement against individual privacy interests. At issue is a case testing whether police must obtain a warrant before putting a GPS tracking device on a car to monitor a suspect's movements.


Chief Justice John Roberts, however, seemed skeptical about applying that rationale to new technologies, asking if the government could "put a GPS device on our cars and monitor us?"

Dreeben responded that under the government's theory and the court's precedents, "the justices of this court, when driving on the streets, have no greater expectation of privacy" against a GPS device attached to the car, "than they would if the FBI followed them around the clock."

Justice Stephen Breyer struck a more ominous tone, asserting that "if you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movements of every citizen in the United States," a scenario that "sounds like 1984." Discussion of Orwell's dystopic novel arose five times during the argument.
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