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Kansas v. Glover, 589 U.S. (2020)


Kansas v. Glover

certiorari to the supreme court of kansas

No. 18–556. Argued November 4, 2019—Decided April 6, 2020

A Kansas deputy sheriff ran a license plate check on a pickup truck, discovering that the truck belonged to respondent Glover and that Glover’s driver’s license had been revoked. The deputy pulled the truck over because he assumed that Glover was driving. Glover was in fact driving and was charged with driving as a habitual violator. He moved to suppress all evidence from the stop, claiming that the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion. The District Court granted the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Kansas Supreme Court in turn reversed, holding that the deputy violated the Fourth Amendment by stopping Glover without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Held: When the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle, an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning that the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 3–10.

(a) An officer may initiate a brief investigative traffic stop when he has “a particularized and objective basis” to suspect legal wrongdoing.  United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417. The level of suspicion required is less than that necessary for probable cause and “depends on ‘ “the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.” ’ ”  Prado Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. 393, 402. Courts must therefore permit officers to make “commonsense judgments and inferences about human behavior.”  Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 125. P. 3.

(b) Here, the deputy’s commonsense inference that the owner of a vehicle was likely the vehicle’s driver provided more than reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop. That inference is not made unreasonable merely because a vehicle’s driver is not always its registered owner or because Glover had a revoked license. Though common sense suffices to justify the officer’s inference, empirical studies demonstrate that drivers with suspended or revoked licenses frequently continue to drive. And Kansas’ license-revocation scheme, which covers drivers who have already demonstrated a disregard for the law or are categorically unfit to drive, reinforces the reasonableness of the inference that an individual with a revoked license will continue to drive. Pp. 4–6.

(c) Glover’s counterarguments are unpersuasive. He argues that the deputy’s inference was unreasonable because it was not grounded in his law enforcement training or experience. Such a requirement, however, is inconsistent with this Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. See, e.g., Navarette, 572 U. S., at 402. It would also place the burden on police officers to justify their inferences by referring to training materials or experience, and it would foreclose their ability to rely on common sense obtained outside of their work duties. Glover’s argument that Kansas’ view would permit officers to base reasonable suspicion exclusively on probabilities also carries little force. Officers, like jurors, may rely on probabilities in the reasonable suspicion context. See, e.g., United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 8–9. Moreover, the deputy here did more than that: He combined facts obtained from a database and commonsense judgments to form a reasonable suspicion that a specific individual was potentially engaged in specific criminal activity. Pp. 6–8.

(d) The scope of this holding is narrow. The reasonable suspicion standard “ ‘takes into account the totality of the circumstances.’ ”  Navarette, 572 U. S., at 397. The presence of additional facts might dispel reasonable suspicion, but here, the deputy possessed no information sufficient to rebut the reasonable inference that Glover was driving his own truck. P. 9.

308 Kan. 590, 422 P.3d 64, reversed and remanded.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined. Kagan, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion.