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The next time park enforcement officers use chalk to mark their hoops, they may act unconstitutional.
A federal appeals court ruled Monday that "chalking" is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The case was brought by Alison Taylor, a Michigan-based woman who calls the court a "frequent recipient of parking tickets." The city of Saginaw, Michigan, uses chalk, like countless other cities across the country, to mark the tires of cars and enforce parking time limits.
By the time Taylor received her 15th quote in just a few short years, she decided to head out to the city, especially to the park attendant Tabitha Hoskins.
Hoskins, Taylor claimed in her lawsuit, was a "productive" Chalker. Each and every one of Taylor's 15 tickets was issued by Hoskins after chalking a tire and went back to see if Taylor's car had moved. Taylor argued that this chalk was unconstitutional.
"Crossing a privately owned vehicle parked on a public street to put chalk marks to gather information to eventually impose a government sanction is unconstitutional under the fourth addition," Philip Ellison wrote in a court file.
A panel of three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously agreed. Chalking tires are a kind of abuse, wrote Judge Bernice Donald to the jury, and a warrant is needed. The decision concerns the Sixth Circuit, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Fourth Amendment protects people from "unreasonable searches and seizures." To determine whether a violation has occurred, the court first asks whether the behavior of the government is a search warrant. If so, you will be asked if the search was appropriate.
The court found that chalking is indeed a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, because government officials physically intervene in a constitutionally protected area to obtain information. Just as the 2012 Supreme Court ruled that sticking a GPS tracker to a car is a "search," Chalk draws it on a tire to find out how long it has parked, the court wrote.
And this search That was not reasonable, said the court. The city is looking for vehicles that "are legally parked for no probable reason or even just" individualized suspicion of misconduct "- the test of the adequacy standard," the court wrote.
Fascinating CA6 opinion today holding this tire to enforce parking – to see if the car has violated parking rules for a while – violates the 4th Amendment. Not sure where to get it, but funny topic. Here is a thread. https://t.co/2MtCtAb9e6 #N pic.twitter.com/GOGjL0RUGk
– Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) April 22, 2019
"We do not believe everyone deserves Free parking, "said the lawyer, Philip Ellison, to The Associated Press. "But the process that Saginaw has chosen is unconstitutional … I am very glad that the three judges who received this case took him seriously, he affects so many people."
Law professor Orin Kerr states that he had never seen one In the run up to the chalk process, the parking law enforcement officers could completely avoid the constitutional issue by simply taking a photo of the car instead of using chalk. "In this way, park enforcement can learn how to physically mark the car [without]," wrote Kerr .
On her Facebook page, Taylor – the recipient of frequent parking tickets – was pleased that these future law students would be able to read about their case while studying the fourth amendment. "That's definitely the most exciting part!" She wrote. "I helped change the law."