A federal appeals court has upheld New York City’s program of warrantless and continuous GPS surveillance of taxi drivers, ruling that drivers are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable searches and seizures when on the job. The Rutherford Institute appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of taxi drivers who were being forced by government officials to attach GPS tracking devices to their taxis.
In a 2-1 decision, the Second Circuit held that taxi drivers do not have a protected privacy interest in the vehicles they drive. The dissenting opinion, issued by Circuit Judge Rosemary S. Pooler, takes issue with the lower court’s premise that taxi drivers should be stripped of all Fourth Amendment protections. Rebutting the view that the government’s surveillance is conspicuous, that taxis are not truly private property, and that the tracking system was installed pursuant to regulations, Pooler declared, “The physical invasion of a constitutionally protected area is no less actionable under the Fourth Amendment merely because it is conspicuous. To hold otherwise would allow the government to conduct unreasonable searches merely by announcing them.”