United States v. Drayton, 536 U.S. 194, 4 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 194 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

pointment of the Court, 535 U. S. 903, Jeffrey T. Green, and Jacqueline G. Cooper.*

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Fourth Amendment permits police officers to approach bus passengers at random to ask questions and to request their consent to searches, provided a reasonable person would understand that he or she is free to refuse. Florida v. Bostick, 501 U. S. 429 (1991). This case requires us to determine whether officers must advise bus passengers during these encounters of their right not to cooperate.


On February 4, 1999, respondents Christopher Drayton and Clifton Brown, Jr., were traveling on a Greyhound bus en route from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Detroit, Michigan. The bus made a scheduled stop in Tallahassee, Florida. The passengers were required to disembark so the bus could be refueled and cleaned. As the passengers reboarded, the driver checked their tickets and then left to complete paperwork inside the terminal. As he left, the driver allowed three members of the Tallahassee Police Department to board the bus as part of a routine drug and weapons interdiction effort. The officers were dressed in plain clothes and carried concealed weapons and visible badges.

Once onboard Officer Hoover knelt on the driver's seat and faced the rear of the bus. He could observe the passengers

*Daniel J. Popeo and Richard A. Samp filed a brief for the Washington Legal Foundation et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.

Leon Friedman and Joshua L. Dratel filed a brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

James P. Manak, Wayne W. Schmidt, Richard Weintraub, Bernard J. Farber, and Carl Milazzo filed a brief for Americans For Effective Law Enforcement, Inc., et al. as amici curiae.


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