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U.S. Supreme Court to hear Kansas appeal in vehicle stop case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the State of Kansas that will review a state supreme court decision in a Douglas County vehicle stop case.

“The specific issue is whether, when a law enforcement officer knows that a vehicle is owned by a person who is not supposed to be driving and sees the vehicle being driven, is that enough to make a traffic stop reasonable under the Fourth Amendment?,” asked Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

The Kansas Supreme Court held in 2018 that, without more information, it is not reasonable under the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to suspect that the registered owner of a vehicle is the person driving the vehicle.

“The majority of courts that have looked at that question have concluded the answer is yes, that is a reasonable stop,” said Schmidt. “The Kansas Supreme Court and a minority of courts and a minority of courts that have answered the question have said no, that’s not reasonable, you need to have more information.”

Currently, further state court proceedings in the case are on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the merits in the appeal.

“We think it’s a very good thing that the court’s granted the case,” said Schmidt. “We’re looking forward to arguing it this fall, and we’ll see what the ultimate outcome is.”

The case is one of three the attorney general’s office will argue at the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.


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