U.S. Supreme Court checks in on hotel records privacy case

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 03, 2015 11:36 AM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared unsure over how to resolve a privacy rights challenge by hotel operators to a Los Angeles city ordinance that allows police to view guest registries.

The court heard a one-hour oral argument over an appeal brought by the city, which says the law is crucial to efforts to reduce criminal activity, especially in so-called parking meter motels that charge by the hour and are often used for prostitution and other criminal activity.

The hotel operators challenged the law, saying it violated their privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

Some justices appeared supportive of the city, while others were more sympathetic toward the hotel operators. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, said he was "puzzled" by the case.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

The case is City of Los Angeles v. Patel, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1175.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)