Cite as: 533 U. S. 27 (2001)
Opinion of the Court
Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor and Kennedy, JJ., joined, post, p. 41.
Kenneth Lerner, by appointment of the Court, 531 U. S. 955, argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner.
Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were former Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Robinson, Irving L. Gornstein, and Deborah Watson.*
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents the question whether the use of a thermal-imaging device aimed at a private home from a public street to detect relative amounts of heat within the home constitutes a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
In 1991 Agent William Elliott of the United States Department of the Interior came to suspect that marijuana was being grown in the home belonging to petitioner Danny Kyllo, part of a triplex on Rhododendron Drive in Florence, Oregon. Indoor marijuana growth typically requires high-intensity lamps. In order to determine whether an amount of heat was emanating from petitioner's home consistent with the use of such lamps, at 3:20 a.m. on January 16, 1992, Agent Elliott and Dan Haas used an Agema Thermovision 210 thermal imager to scan the triplex. Thermal imagers detect infrared radiation, which virtually all objects emit but which is not visible to the naked eye. The imager converts radiation into images based on relative warmth—black
*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the Liberty Project by Julie M. Carpenter; and for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. by James J. Tomkovicz, Lisa B. Kemler, and Steven R. Shapiro.
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