Reason.com: Volokh Conspiracy: Collins v. Virginia and “the Conception Defining the Curtilage” by Orin Kerr:
A familiar idea “easily understood from our daily experience” — or is it?
The Supreme Court handed down Collins v. Virginia today, ruling 8-1 that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t permit the police to go onto the curtilage around a home to search a car using the lower standard of the automobile exception. The decision was 8-1, with Justice Sotomayor writing for the majority and Justice Alito dissenting. I think the majority was exactly right: The automobile exception allows a search of a car once you’re at the car, but it doesn’t allow entrance onto the curtilage (treated as the home for Fourth Amendment purposes) to get to the car to then apply the automobile exception. And I think Justice Sotomayor wrote a strong opinion on it, too.