Supreme Court: Police search of hotel guest records violates U.S. Constitution

In June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that police work has gone too far.  According to court documents, the Los Angeles Police Department was operating under Los Angeles municipal code that required hotels and motels to keep a record of all of their guest information and to turn it over to police on demand.  The law also said that if a hotel or motel refused to make guest records available for police inspection, they could arrest the innkeeper on the spot, charge them with a misdemeanor – punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

This is awful for the innkeeper.  But let’s not forget about guest privacy concerns. Here’s the information innkeepers were required to record and turn over to police:   Each guest’s name and address; the number of people in the party; the date and time of arrival; the planned date of departure; the room number; the rate paid; the method of payment; guest ID number if they failed to reserve in advance, paid cash, or rented for 12 hours or less; and information on her vehicle.   What a privacy invasion!

The Supreme Court said that this municipal law was a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant for a search to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

In this case, the law was deemed unconstitutional because records could be turned over by simply a police demand, rather than the police having to go through the legal process of having a judge review and approve that there was a real, just reason for the records.

This is a win for the people and privacy!  For more information on this, click here —>


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