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July 31, 2014

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Court upholds traffic stop based on anonymous tip

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says an anonymous tip can be sufficient to justify a decision by police to pull a car over on suspicion of reckless or drunken driving.

The justices voted 5-4 Tuesday to uphold a traffic stop in northern California in which officers subsequently found marijuana in the vehicle. The officers themselves did not see any evidence of reckless driving.

Justice Clarence Thomas said the tip phoned in to 911 that a Ford pickup truck had run the caller off the road was sufficiently reliable to allow for the traffic stop without violating the driver's constitutional rights.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent in which he called Thomas' opinion "a freedom-destroying cocktail."

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