The Court today released an interesting opinion on administrative searches in Los Angeles v. Patel.
Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, hotel operators are required to keep certain information in their hotel registry for 90 days. The Code requires the operators to allow the LAPD to inspect these registries upon request, or they could be charged with a misdemeanor. The hotels owners filed a facial challenge under the Fourth Amendment. The district court dismissed the challenge, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding this statutory scheme authorized unconstitutional administrative searches.
The Court noted that the statutory scheme forced hotel operators with an unconstitutional “Comply or Else” dilemma without affording them any opportunity for administrative review of the validity of the search. The Court concluded that an administrative search scheme that does not create a mechanism for operators to seek administrative review of “on-the-spot” searches violates the Fourth Amendment as it authorizes an unconstitutional search. The Court noted that any administrative search carried out with an administrative warrant or as an exception to the warrant requirement would comply with the Fourth Amendment.
The opinion is available here: