The Atlantic: Pleading for the Fourth

In her solo dissent from a case at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor chose to be blunt about the ruling’s implications. “By sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing, the Court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow,” she wrote of her colleagues’ 8-1 decision in Mullenix v. Lena to shield a police officer from liability for shooting a man during a high-speed chase.

Mullenix is neither a high-profile case on the Court’s docket nor a landmark decision in its jurisprudence. But Sotomayor’s dissent from it adds to what has become an increasingly prominent theme of her tenure: the Fourth Amendment’s constraints on law enforcement, and a skepticism toward those who try to stretch them.

This particular case centered on the death of Israel Leija, Jr., who was shot and killed by Chadrin Mullenix, a trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, during a high-speed pursuit on Interstate 27 near Tulia, Texas, in 2010. The chase began when a local police officer attempted to arrest Leija on an outstanding warrant in Tulia. Leija fled, leading officers on an 18-minute, high-speed pursuit. During the chase, Leija called the local police dispatcher and, in what the dispatcher interpreted as a state of intoxication, warned that he had a gun and would shoot officers pursuing him….Read the rest of the article at The Atlantic

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