Supreme Court Rules on LA Hotel Registry Law

The court rejected the Los Angeles law with a 5-4 ruling on Monday.

The ordinance had allowed police the ability to examine hotel guest records on demand. The city had argued that the law helped fight prostitution, drug trafficking and illegal gambling at budget hotels and motels. 

Justice Sotomayor wrote that the law proved unconstitutional as non-complying hotel owners could have been arrested on the spot, whereas the Justice continued, saying a business owner must have an opportunity to object to a judge.

The dissenting opinion, written by Justice Scalia, found the law to be “eminently reasonable” citing the crime fighting argument given by the city. He continued, “The warrantless inspection requirement provides a necessary incentive for motels to maintain their registers thoroughly and accurately…”

The ruling ultimately upheld a U.S. 9th Circuit Court ruling that vacated the law citing it was permitting unreasonable searches.

The SCOTUSblog page for the case can be found here.

Image Credit: Flickr User fischerfotos, via (CC BY-SA 2.0)