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Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Searches of Hotel Guest Registries

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Los Angeles ordinance authorizing warrantless inspections of hotel guest registries is unconstitutional because it failed to provide for judicial review. The ordinance required all hotels in Los Angeles to collect detailed information on their guests for police inspection. Writing for the Court in Los Angeles v. Patel, Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained that with only a few exceptions, "searches conducted outside the judicial process" are "per se unreasonable." EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case, joined by thirty-six technical experts and legal scholars, arguing that "guest registries should not be made routinely available to the police for inspection, and they should not be collected or retained for that purpose." EPIC traced the history of US hotels as meetings places for organizations and cited the landmark Supreme Court case NAACP v. Alabama.

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