Their misgivings reflect a sense on the part of many Americans, including this editorial board, that there's something creepy about round-the-clock electronic surveillance. But when they decide the case of Antoine Jones, a suspected drug dealer who was arrested after being monitored by a global positioning system, they will have to base any decision in Jones' favor not on creepiness but on the Constitution. Fortunately, that document, interpreted in light of technological advances, supports a ruling that GPS surveillance without a warrant violates the 4th Amendment.
In his argument, Deputy Solicitor Gen. Michael Dreeben asked the court to treat GPS tracking the same way it treats visual observation of a suspect on a public street. "What a person seeks to preserve as private in the enclave of his own home or in a private letter or inside of his vehicle when he is traveling is a subject of 4th Amendment protection," Dreeben said. "But what he reveals to the world, such as his movements in a car on a public roadway, is not."