MCLU Defends Privacy Rights of ATV Riders

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
November 14, 2008 12:00 am

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Amicus Curiae Brief Argues For Fourth-Amendment Protection


PORTLAND — Today, the Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief with the Maine Law Court in support of the Fourth Amendment rights of All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riders. The case, Maine v. McKeen, involved an ATV rider who was stopped by a game warden without justification. The State claimed that Maine statute authorizes game wardens to detain ATV riders for any reason, but the Superior Court in Aroostook County said that game wardens were bound by the Fourth Amendment prohibition on “unreasonable search and seizure.” The State of Maine has appealed the order.

“The Fourth Amendment provides all-terrain protection,” said MCLU Legal Director Zachary Heiden, who authored the organization’s brief. “A person does not give up their constitutional rights when they climb on an ATV.”

In its brief, the MCLU drew attention to the long history of protection against unreasonable search and seizure and to the requirement that law enforcement officials are only authorized to detain or arrest when they have adequate and articulable justification. The brief quotes Justice Louis Brandeis’ well-known dissent from the case of Olmstead v. United States (1928): The Fourth Amendment protects an individuals ” right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men.”

The MCLU has participated in numerous landmark Fourth Amendment cases in Maine, both as amicus curiae and direct counsel. In 1989, volunteer attorneys with the MCLU represented complainants in Hatfield et al. v. Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Management, et al. — the so-called “Riverblocks” case, which ended the practice of unjustified searches and seizures of boaters on the Saco River.

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