ACLU Applauds Supreme Court Ruling Protecting Fourth Amendment Rights of Car Passengers

June 18, 2007 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union applauded today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Brendlin v. California, recognizing that passengers in a car that is stopped by the police are seized as well as the driver, and therefore have the same right under the Fourth Amendment to protest an unconstitutional stop that is based on the police officer’s whim rather than evidence of wrongdoing.

The following quote can be attributed to Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU National Legal Director:

“Today’s decision means that the police will no longer receive a free pass to violate the Constitution when they stop a car and its passengers without reason to believe that anyone in the car has violated the law. By recognizing that the average passenger does not feel free to leave the scene when the police pull over a car, the Court’s decision reflects commonsense. By holding that both passengers and driver can object to an unconstitutional stop, the decision properly deprives the police of what would otherwise be a virtual invitation to engage in racial profiling.”

The ACLU, along with the ACLU of Northern California, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, submitted an amicus brief in the case.

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