Never one to mince words, Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia issued a scathing dissent Tuesday, claiming that the majority ruling in a recent search-and-seizure case “serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity.”
The case, Navarette v. California, concerned a man who was pulled over for drunk driving and arrested for possession of a substantial quantity of marijuana.
The man had not actually been driving drunk, however, and the officer had no reason to stop him, other than an anonymous phone tip. Civil libertarians argued that the anonymous tip was not enough to warrant stopping and searching the car, when the driver exhibited no actual signs of being intoxicated.
A 5-4 Supreme Court majority disagreed. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that the anonymous tip was enough to constitute reasonable suspicion.
Scalia joined his more liberal colleagues, Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Sandra Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer — in vehement dissent, arguing that a search based solely on an anonymous tip is a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Also vehement: The language Scalia chose for his dissent.
“The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity,” he wrote.
The decision would lead police officers to rely on anonymous tips in a way that would imperil innocent American’s Constitution rights, wrote Scalia.