The US Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear a decision from the Ninth Circuit that struck down a 2008 ordinance of the city of Los Angeles requiring that hotel guest records “be made available to any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspection.” Patel v. City of Los Angeles.
The ordinance requires hotels to collect and maintain guest information such as name and address, number of people in the guest’s party, vehicle information, arrival and checkout dates, room number, and method of payment.
In December 2013, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals with a divided opinion held that the ordinance was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. The requirement that hotel guest records “shall be made available to any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspection” is invalid as it authorizes inspections without affording an opportunity to “obtain judicial review of the reasonableness of the demand prior to suffering penalties for refusing to comply.”
With its petition for certiorari, the City of Los Angeles urged the US Supreme Court to decide whether hotels have an expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in a hotel guest registry. The City of Los Angeles referred to a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that held that an hotel has no privacy expectation in its guest records. Commonwealth v. Blinn. The City of Los Angeles argued that a Supreme Court decision on the matter is necessary considered the “split” of decisions and the compelling national interest in the matter (26 States have 70 similar laws which “expressly help police investigate crimes such as prostitution and gambling, capture dangerous fugitives and even authorize federal law enforcement to examine these registers, an authorization which can be vital in the immediate aftermath of a homeland terrorist attack”.) As said, The US Supreme Court granted a certiorari.