State supreme courts do not always agree with the constitutional pronouncements of the US Supreme Court. State courts are free to cite more stringent provisions of their state constitutions if they wish to provide greater protections for residents. The Iowa Supreme Court did just that last week when it shot down the federal court’s doctrine allowing police to search any car at will without a warrant merely by finding a reason to tow it away so an “inventory” search can be made.
“We accept the invitation to restore the balance between citizens and law enforcement by adopting a tighter legal framework for warrantless inventory searches and seizures of automobiles under article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution than provided under the recent precedents of the United States Supreme Court,” Justice Brent R. Appel wrote. “In doing so, we encourage stability and finality in law by decoupling Iowa law from the winding and often surprising decisions of the United States Supreme Court.”