U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that when drivers pull into parking spaces, "the city commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' — the touchstone of the reasonableness standard."
Moreover, overstaying your welcome at a parking space doesn't cause "injury or ongoing harm to the community," she wrote, meaning the city is wrong to argue that parking enforcement is part of its "community caretaking" responsibility, potentially justifying a search without a warrant.
In fact, she wrote, "there has been a trespass in this case because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle."
While Saginaw is entitled to regulate public parking, "the manner in which it chooses to do so is not without constitutional limitation," Donald wrote.
Orin Kerr, a law professor at the University of Southern California, tweeted one suggestion: Take a picture of the car or its tires without "trespassing" on it with chalk.
Monday's ruling sends the lawsuit back to U.S. District Court in Bay City, Michigan.