[ Rehnquist ]
[ Breyer ]
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
BOND v. UNITED STATES
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
Border Patrol Agent Cantu boarded a bus in Texas to check the immigration status of its passengers. As he walked off the bus, he squeezed the soft luggage which passengers had placed in the overhead storage space. He squeezed a canvas bag above petitioners seat and noticed that it contained a brick-like object. After petitioner admitted owning the bag and consented to its search, Agent Cantu discovered a brick of methamphetamine. Petitioner was indicted on federal drug charges. He moved to suppress the drugs, arguing that Agent Cantu conducted an illegal search of his bag. The District Court denied the motion and found petitioner guilty. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion, holding that Agent Cantus manipulation of the bag was not a search under the Fourth Amendment.
Held: Agent Cantus physical manipulation of petitioners carry-on bag violated the Fourth Amendments proscription against unreasonable searches. A travelers personal luggage is clearly an effect protected by the Amendment, see United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 707, and it is undisputed that petitioner possessed a privacy interest in his bag. The Governments assertion that by exposing his bag to the public, petitioner lost a reasonable expectation that his bag would not be physically manipulated is rejected. California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, and Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445, are distinguishable, because they involved only visual, as opposed to tactile, observation. Physically invasive inspection is simply more intrusive than purely visual inspection. Under this Courts Fourth Amendment analysis, a court first asks whether the individual, by his conduct, has exhibited an actual expectation of privacy; that is, whether he has shown that he [sought] to preserve [something] as private. Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740. Here, petitioner sought to preserve privacy by using an opaque bag and placing it directly above his seat. Second, a court inquires whether the individuals expectation of privacy is one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Ibid. Although a bus passenger clearly expects that other passengers or bus employees may handle his bag, he does not expect that they will feel the bag in an exploratory manner. But this is exactly what the agent did here. Pp. 25.
167 F.3d 225, reversed.
Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Stevens, OConnor, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, J., joined.