Rodriguez v United States

Rodriguez moved to suppress drugs discovered as a result of a dog sniff which occurred after the officer who stopped him for a traffic violation completed the issuing of the citation and returned all of Rodriguez’s documents. The district court denied the motion and the 8th Circuit affirmed. Resolving a split of authority among federal and state appellate courts, The Court, 6-3, reversed. The majority held that a traffic stop is like a Terry stop and can only last as long as it takes to fulfill the mission of issuing a ticket. It also held that traffic safety and investigating drug smuggling or other crimes are different interests in kind and a traffic stop cannot justify extending the stop to allow a dog sniff. The case was remanded for analysis of whether there was individualized suspicion to justify the detention and dog sniff. Justice Kennedy issued a dissent joining Justice Thomas’ dissent except for discussion of reasonable suspicion. Justice Thomas, joined by Alito and Kennedy in part filed a dissent arguing that the stop in totality was reasonably executed, not longer than similar stops upheld in the past and part of the delay was justified by officer safety concerns. He also argued the new rule announced today is inconsistent with precedent as it arbitrarily grants protection to those stopped by efficient offers while denying it to those stopped by the inefficient, artificially limits the questioning that occur during a stop, may end the practice of warrant checks during stops and fails to distinguish between traffic stops supported by reasonable suspicion and those supported by probable cause. He finally argued that there was reasonable suspicion of Rodriguez based on overwhelming smell of air freshener, the nervousness of the passenger, the false explanation for why the vehicle left the road and the suspicious explanation of why Rodriguez was on the road at midnight. Justice Alito added a dissent arguing there was reasonable suspicion here and the decision is arbitrary as it is based on the officer’s choice to wait for backup before doing the dog sniff and this will now result in officers acting unreasonably buy putting themselves at risk to do dog sniffs while warrant checks or other permitted activities are occurring.  

Oneok, Inc. v Learjet, Inc.

Learjet and other purchasers of natural gas sued Oneok and other pipelines alleging violations of state antitrust law. The district court dismissed ruling the claims were precluded by federal law. The 9th Circuit reversed as to state law retail purchase claims. The Court, 7(with Thomas concurring in part and in judgment)-2 affirmed. The majority held that state regulatory power has been retained through the federal natural Gas Act, generally applicable laws, such as antitrust laws, are not preempted and the test is what is being regulated and unless the answer is interstate pipelines generally the state law will not be precluded under field preclusion principles. Justice Thomas added a concurrence arguing that preclusion can only apply when a validly enacted statute exists and it actually conflicts with state law. Noting he had doubts about the Court’s precedent setting out the scope of implied preclusion under the Natural Gas Act, because the claims here fall outside even that overextended scope, he concurred in judgment. Justice Scalia, joined by Roberts, dissented arguing that regulating interstate pipelines is an exclusively federal power, the antitrust claims have the effect of impacting and in a sense regulating wholesale prices and they are therefore preempted. The dissent also argued the majority ignored Court precedent and undermines the Act’s purpose of uniform regulation of pipelines.