Opinion analysis: An “opportunity for precompliance review” is constitutionally required for most government inspection programs

Today’s opinion in City of Los Angeles v. Patel is an important development for the administration of government inspection programs. In a decision authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court ruled five to four that a Los Angeles municipal ordinance giving police the ability to inspect (search) motel registration records without advance notice, and to arrest for noncompliance, fails under the Fourth Amendment because it lacks an “opportunity for pre-compliance review.” More generally, and significantly, the Court appears to restrict prior doctrine that freed government inspections of “closely regulated industries” from any Fourth Amendment analysis other than “reasonableness” to industries found to be “intrinsically dangerous” (“only four industries” so far: firearms dealing, liquor sales, mining, and (oddly enough) automobile junkyards). Motels, even though they can be used for “nefarious ends,” are not so characterized. The Fourth Amendment

Original SCOTUS article

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