April 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court sided Monday with Kansas in a ruling over a man who claimed his Fourth Amendment rights were violated in a 2016 traffic stop.
The justices 8-1 opinion shows that the case stems from Sheriff's Deputy Mark Mehrer, in Douglas County, pulling over Charles Glover in his Chevrolet pickup truck on April 28, 2016, based on running his plate and determining that the registered owner had a revoked license. The traffic stop revealed that Glover was the owner and was driving with a revoked license, but Glover claimed the officer lacked reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment because he just assumed that the owner was the one driving before stopping him.
The majority ruled Monday that Deputy Mehrer's assumption was reasonable, reversing the Kansas Supreme Court's opinion that the deputy violated the Fourth Amendment by stopping Glover without reasonable suspicion.
"We hold that when the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is the driver of the vehicle, the stop is reasonable," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion. "The fact that the registered owner of a vehicle is not always the driver of the vehicle does not negate the reasonableness of Deputy Mehrer's inference."
"Studies demonstrate what common experience readily reveals: Drivers with revoked licenses frequently continue to drive and therefore to pose safety risks to other motorists and pedestrians," the majority added.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone judge to dissent.
"In upholding routine stops of vehicles whose owners have revoked licenses, the Court ignores key foundations of our reasonable-suspicion jurisprudence and impermissibly and unnecessarily reduces the state's burden of proof," Sotomayor wrote. "The consequence of the majority's approach is to absolve officers from any responsibility to investigate the identity of a driver where feasible. But that is precisely what officers ought to do -- and are more than capable of doing."