Satellite-Based Monitoring is a Fourth Amendment Search Says U.S. Supreme Court

In the case of Torrey Grady versus North Carolina, Mr. Grady was convicted in North Carolina of a sexual offense in 1997 and of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2006. After serving his sentence for the 2006 crime, Grady was ordered to appear for a hearing to determine whether he should be subjected to satellite-based monitoring as a recidivist sex offender. Grady objected saying that the monitoring program would violate his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the lower-court judge disagreed and ordered Grady to enroll and be monitored for the rest of his life. Grady appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court but lost. So he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which decided to send his case back to the North Carolina courts for more hearings. Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that:

1. Because North Carolina's program is clearly designed to obtain information, and because it does so by physically intruding on a person's body, it constitutes a Fourth Amendment search.

2. The Fourth Amendment prohibits only unreasonable searches, and the reasonableness depends on the totality of the circumstances, including the nature and purpose of the search and the extent to which the search intrudes upon reasonable privacy expectations; and

3. The North Carolina courts did not examine whether the monitoring program was reasonable when properly viewed as a search.

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