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Musings on Hotels and Danger - prompted by the Supreme Court

Question asked by ssindc on Jul 3, 2015
Latest reply on Jul 6, 2015 by joshm

Well, if you haven't seen it yet, but you're a regular on this site, you'll be fascinated by this op-ed/essay in the New York Times: Are Hotels Dangerous?   The op-ed/essay is written by a couple of professors (one at Rice, one at Brown) who've written a book about hotels: Hotel Life: The Story of a Place Where Anything Can Happen (Hardcover) | Peregrine Book Company  The NYT piece focuses on the recent Supreme Court case, City of Los Angeles v. Patel, decided 5-4, which concluded that hotels do NOT need to turn over their guest lists (check-in information) without a warrant - you can read all about it here:   City of Los Angeles v. Patel : SCOTUSblog


In a dissent, Justice Scalia writes, among other things:


Motels not only provide housing to vulnerable transient populations, they are also a particularly attractive site for criminal activity ranging from drug dealing and prostitution to human trafficking. Offering privacy and anonymity on the cheap, they have been employed as prisons for migrants smuggled across the border and held for ransom, ..., and rendezvous sites where child sex workers meet their clients on threat of violence from their procurers....

Criminals, who depend on the anonymity that motels offer, will balk when confronted with a motel’s demand that they produce identification. And a motel’s evasion of the recordkeeping requirement fosters crime. In San Diego, for example, motel owners were indicted for collaborating with members of the Crips street gang in the prostitution of underage girls; the motel owners “set aside rooms apart from the rest of their legitimate customers where girls and women were housed, charged the gang members/pimps a higher rate for the rooms where ‘dates’ or ‘tricks’ took place, and warned the gang members of inquiries by law enforcement.”... The warrantless inspection requirement [defeated by the majority] provides a necessary incentive for motels to maintain their registers thoroughly and accurately: They never know when law enforcement might drop by to inspect.


In contrast, writing for the majority, Justice Sotomayor responded, in a footnote:


Hotels—like practically all commercial premises or services—can be put to use for nefarious ends. But unlike the industries that the Court has found to be closely regulated, hotels are not intrinsically dangerous.


Well, Marriott Insiders, what's your view?  Are hotels intrinsically dangerous?


I, for one, tend to sleep pretty well in hotels, but I concede it's possible I'm not spending my time in the same type of establishments that Justice Scalia has in mind....