The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against a Los Angeles law that required hotel operators to make guest registries available to police and authorities.
The law was deemed as a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, wrote the majority opinion in this 5-4 decision. The majority addressed two questions in their opinion:
First, the majority found that, under the Fourth Amendment, statutes that cause for warrantless searches can be challenged by their face and not only in a circumstance of application.
Second, the majority stated that the law violates the Fourth Amendment because “it doesn’t give hotel operators the opportunity for precompliance review before they are penalized.”
“We hold only that a hotel owner must be afforded an opportunity to have a neutral decision-maker review an officer’s demand to search the registry before he or she faces penalties for failing to comply,” Sotomayor wrote.
The striking of this law is being regarded as a protection of our Constitutional right under the 4th Amendment, while those on the dissenting side feel that it may create a safe zone for illegal activities in hotel and motel establishments, including drug and sex crimes.