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Warrantless Searches of Massage Parlors Constitutional
Description Michigan high court upheld the constitutionality of a city ordinance that provided for extensive regulation of massage parlors and allowed warrantless searches. Closely regulated enterprises are subject to warrantless administrative searches to insure compliance with the ordinance.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Fourth Amendment, Warrantless Search
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The City of Ferndale, Michigan, adopted a comprehensive ordinance regulating massage parlors. Parlor owners contested the constitutionality of the ordinance, claiming that the warrantless search provision was in violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches. Court of appeals held the searches to be unconstitutional; City appealed.
Court of Appeals Decision Reversed. "While it is well established that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures applies to administrative inspection of private commercial property, an exemption from the search warrant requirement exists for administrative inspections of closely regulated industries. Whether the exemption applies is primarily determined by '"the pervasiveness and regularity of the ... regulation" and the effect of such regulation upon an owner's expectation of privacy.' When a person chooses to engage in a 'pervasively regulated business ... he does so with the knowledge that his business ... will be subject to effective inspection.'"
Citation Gora v. City of Ferndale, 1998 WL 148393 (Sup. Ct., Mich.)
576 N. W. 2d 141 (Sup. Ct., Mich., 1998)

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