The Supreme Court of the United States is considering a question that could have broad implications for policing and the rights of drivers to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In Kansas v. Glover, the Supreme Court is considering whether, for purposes of an investigative stop under the Fourth Amendment, it is reasonable for an officer to suspect that the registered owner of a vehicle is the one driving the vehicle absent any information to the contrary. In other words, can law enforcement infer that the owner of a vehicle may be driving the vehicle, absent information to the contrary, and is that the inference sufficient to provide reasonable suspicion for an investigative stop where the officer knows the owner has a revoked license?
To see why this question is important, consider this example. Assume you are a licensed driver and you borrow a vehicle from a family member whose license has been suspended. While driving your family member’s vehicle, you are stopped by the police. You have not broken a single law. You were stopped only because the officer guessed that your family member might be driving. Was the traffic stop lawful?
The above scenario is hypothetical, but the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kansas v. Glover
, which asks whether the Fourth Amendment “always permits a police officer to seize a motorist when the only thing the police officer knows is that the motorist is driving a vehicle registered to someone whose license has been revoked.”
If you’re interested in following this case, you can track it here