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Supreme Court to decide police access to hotel guest registries
October 20, 2014 / 2:27 PM / 3 years ago

Supreme Court to decide police access to hotel guest registries

Visitors stand in line to watch arguments on the first day of the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington October 6, 2014.Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether hotel operators have grounds to challenge a Los Angeles city ordinance that allows police to view guest registries, a power that local officials say helps them investigate crimes including prostitution.

The City of Los Angeles asked the Supreme Court to intervene after an appeals court said the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures.

The ordinance requires hotel and motel operators to collect a detailed list of information on each guest, including name and address, car model, license plate number and method of payment. The records are available for inspection by the police department at any time, without a warrant.

Lawyers for the city said its ordnance, and dozens of others like it around the United States, are vital tools for law enforcement when investigating such issues as prostitution, gambling and even suspected militant activity.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the ordnance in a December 2013 ruling. The ordinance was challenges by various motel owners in Los Angeles.

A ruling is expected by the end of June. The case is City of Los Angeles v. Patel, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1175.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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