US Supreme Court asked to ponder drug dog's sniff

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Franky the drug dog's supersensitive nose is at the heart of a question being put to the U.S. Supreme Court: Does a police dog's sniff outside a house give officers the right to get a search warrant for illegal drugs, or is the sniff an unconstitutional search?

Florida's highest state court has said Franky's ability to detect marijuana growing inside a Miami-area house from outside a closed front door crossed the constitutional line. The state's attorney general wants the Supreme Court to reverse that ruling.

The justices could decide this month whether to take the case, the latest dispute about whether the use of dogs to find drugs, explosives and other illegal or dangerous substances violates the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure.

Many court watchers expect the justices will take up the case.

"The Florida Supreme Court adopted a very broad reading of the Fourth Amendment that is different from that applied by other courts. It's an interpretation that a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court will question," said Tom Goldstein, who publishes the widely read SCOTUSblog website and teaches at the Harvard and Stanford law schools.

The case, Florida v. Jardines, is being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies nationwide, which depend on dogs for a wide range of law enforcement duties.

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