The Supreme Court of California ruled against Brendlin in 2006, holding that passengers are not automatically seized during a traffic stop, and allowed the evidence to be used in the trial. Brendlin is now backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP, which fear that a judgment for the state would give police broad power to stop vehicles to search passengers. Brendlin's conviction may stand regardless of the Court's ruling, as at the time of arrest he was wanted for an unrelated parole violation, which itself may have justified the state's search. AP has more.
The Supreme Court also heard oral arguments in two other cases Monday. In United States v. Atlantic Research Corp, 06-562, the Court must decide whether owners of areas contaminated by hazardous materials that must be cleaned up under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) can recover contribution from other responsible parties before they are subject to a government enforcement action. In Hinck v. United States, 06-376, the Court will decide whether tax courts have exclusive jurisdiction to review an IRS decision to deny a taxpayer’s request for interest abatement or whether district courts and Federal Claims Court also have such jurisdiction.