(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/3/2011) -- The nation's largest Muslim civil liberties organization today announced the filing of an amicus (friend of the court) brief in United States v. Jones seeking the court's support for the requirement that law enforcement authorities obtain a warrant before placing a GPS tracking device on any individual's vehicle.
The entire CAIR brief is available here.
In Jones' case, police officers attached a GPS tracking device to his car and tracked his movements 24-hours-a-day for four weeks without obtaining a prior search warrant.
SEE: US v Jones
The brief, filed by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), asks the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the D.C. Circuit Court's decision that "prolonged warrantless use of a GPS tracking device violates the Fourth Amendment."
CAIR's interest in the case stems from a lawsuit it is litigating on behalf of Yasir Afifi, a Santa Clara, Calif., resident who discovered a GPS tracking device placed on his vehicle in October 2010. FBI agents went to Afifi's home two days after the GPS device was discovered to retrieve it and interrogate him.
In March 2011, CAIR filed suit on behalf of Afifi against Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The suit seeks an injunction against any future attempts by the FBI to attach a tracking device to Afifi's vehicle and calls for an end to the policy of using tracking devices without a warrant. In September 2011, that case was stayed pending the Supreme Court's decision in Jones.
CAIR's brief alleges that the government's authority to undertake expansive surveillance during times of heightened national security concerns have led to dragnet targeting of various minority communities for the last century.
The brief states in part:
"For the reasons set forth in Respondent's brief, warrantless GPS tracking violates the privacy rights of American Muslims. In addition, unchecked GPS surveillance restricts Muslims' First Amendment rights of association, speech, and free exercise of religion. The most significant harms have been a chilling effect on American Muslims' mosque attendance and charitable giving. To mitigate these harms, the Court should hold that prolonged warrantless GPS tracking of a vehicle and warrantless installation of a GPS device on a vehicle both violate the Fourth Amendment."
CAIR has heard from several American Muslims over the last year who have discovered GPS tracking devices on their vehicles. In each of these cases, there has not been a warrant.
"The impact of warrantless GPS tracking is an inevitable chilling of the First Amendment rights of American Muslims," CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo.
Billoo said CAIR offices across the nation also continue to receive reports from American Muslims of harassing and intimidating visits from law enforcement personnel.
"The ruling the Supreme Court makes in this case will affect not only Muslims, but all Americans," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, the attorney of record on the amicus brief.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626-252-0885, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, 540-514-2093, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com