WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to take up an important privacy case for the digital age, whether the police need a warrant before using a global positioning system device to track a suspect's movements.
The administration is appealing a lower court ruling that reversed a criminal conviction because the police did not obtain a warrant for the GPS device they secretly installed on a man's car.
The federal appeals court in Washington said that officers violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches. Other appeals courts have ruled that search warrants aren't necessary for GPS tracking.
The Justice Department says prompt resolution of the divergent opinions is critically important to law enforcement.
A three-judge panel of Democratic and Republican appointees unanimously threw out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones of Washington, D.C., a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring.
Police put the GPS device on Jones' Jeep and tracked his movements for a month. The judges said the prolonged surveillance was a factor in their decision.