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Air Pollution Variance Bd. v. Western Alfalfa, 416 U.S. 861 (1974)

Air Pollution Variance Board of Colorado v. Western Alfalfa Corp.

No. 73-690

Argued April 25, 1974

Decided May 20, 1974

416 U.S. 861


A state health inspector entered respondent's out-door premises in the daylight, without its knowledge or consent and without a warrant, to make an opacity test of smoke being emitted from respondent's chimneys. In a hearing requested by respondent, the Colorado Air Pollution Variance Board, on the basis of such test, found the emissions violated the state act, denied respondent a variance, and entered a cease and desist order. The County District Court set aside the Board's decision, and the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the test constituted an unreasonable search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Held: The Fourth Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth, does not extend to sights seen in "the open fields," Hester v. United States, 265 U. S. 57, 265 U. S. 59, such as here, where the inspector did not enter the respondent's plant or offices, but had sighted what anyone who was near the plant could see in the sky. Pp. 416 U. S. 864-865.

510 P.2d 907, reversed and remanded.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 416 U. S. 862

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