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Name: City of Indianapolis v. Edmond
Case #: 99-1030
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 11/28/2000
Subsequent History: cross-cites: 121 S.Ct. 447; 148 L.Ed.2d 333

The City of Indianapolis operated vehicle checkpoints on its roads in an effort to stop the transport of illegal drugs. Here, the Supreme Court held that the roadblocks contravened the Fourth Amendment because their primary purpose is indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control. Brief suspicionless seizures at fixed checkpoints in order to intercept illegal aliens or drunk drivers have been upheld because they are designed to closely serve the purposes of policing the border or ensuring roadway safety, and therefore serve law enforcement purposes, using arrest as a method to reach those goals. However, the court has never upheld a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of “ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Checkpoints are not justified by the nature of a drug problem, and if they were, there would be little check on the ability to construct a roadblock for almost any purpose. This holding does not affect the constitutional status of border searches, or searches in airports in government buildings, which can be distinguished by the need to ensure public safety. Dissenting opinion by Justices Renquist, Thomas, and Scalia would find constitutional any brief, standardized, directionless roadblock seizure which “served a weighty state purpose with only minimal intrusion on the privacy of their occupants.”