Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 15 (1997)

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Kennedy, J., dissenting

(1979).12 Today, however, the Court takes the unprecedented step of authorizing seizures that are unsupported by any individualized suspicion whatsoever.

The Court's conclusion seems to rest on the assumption that the constitutional protection against "unreasonable" seizures requires nothing more than a hypothetically rational basis for intrusions on individual liberty. How far this ground-breaking decision will take us, I do not venture to predict. I fear, however, that it may pose a more serious threat to individual liberty than the Court realizes.

I respectfully dissent.

Justice Kennedy, dissenting.

I join in the dissent by Justice Stevens and add these few observations.

The distinguishing feature of our criminal justice system is its insistence on principled, accountable decisionmaking in individual cases. If a person is to be seized, a satisfactory explanation for the invasive action ought to be established by an officer who exercises reasoned judgment under all the circumstances of the case. This principle can be accommodated even where officers must make immediate decisions to ensure their own safety.

Traffic stops, even for minor violations, can take upwards of 30 minutes. When an officer commands passengers innocent of any violation to leave the vehicle and stand by the side of the road in full view of the public, the seizure is serious, not trivial. As Justice Stevens concludes, the command to exit ought not to be given unless there are objective circumstances making it reasonable for the officer to issue the order. (We do not have before us the separate question whether passengers, who, after all, are in the car by choice,

12 Dissenting in Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U. S. 648 (1979), then-Justice Rehnquist characterized the motorist's interest in freedom from random stops as "only the most diaphanous of citizen interests." Id., at 666.

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