Justice Sonia Sotomayor Evokes Baldwin, Coates in Blistering Dissent on Illegal Stops

Articles | July 1 2016

by Sameer Rao

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are ‘isolated.’ They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited the likes of James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates in her sharp dissenting opinion on the Court’s June 20 decision in Utah v. Strieff, which allows for the use of illegaly-obtained evidence.

The case originated with narcotics detective Douglas Fackrell’s 2006 arrest of Edward Strieff Jr. in Salt Lake City. According to Vox, Fackrell stopped Strieff after receiving an anonymous tip about potential drug activity. Fackrell then learned about an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation, arrested Strieff and found methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia while searching him. The Utah Supreme Court ruled to suppress the evidence because, as Strieff’s attorney argued, it was obtained through an unlawful stop.  (Read more)