Whren permits "pretextual" car stops. This is when an officer wants to stop a person for some specific reason (usually drugs, but the Court doesn't care what the reason is), and then cherry picks a violation in order to stop the car. I think Whren is a bad decision, but my opinion doesn't matter. As a cop I made pretextual car stops; I played by the rules of the game. And the rules were in my favor. The reason I bring this up is because a similar logic applies to ordering somebody from her car during a car stop. From Whren (but referring to Robinson):
A lawful post-arrest search of the person would not be rendered invalid by the fact that it was not motivated by the officer safety concern that justifies such searches.... "[s]ubjective intent alone . . . does not make otherwise lawful conduct illegal or unconstitutional."But wait.... Isn't a true that officers can always find a minor traffic violation? Yes. And the Court is fine with that.
Subjective intentions play no role in ordinary, probable cause Fourth Amendment analysis.
[Some say] the "multitude of applicable traffic and equipment regulations" is so large and so difficult to obey perfectly that virtually everyone is guilty of violation, permitting the police to single out almost whomever they wish for a stop.The Court slaps this down with vengeance:
We are aware of no principle that would allow us to decide at what point a code of law becomes so expansive and so commonly violated that infraction itself can no longer be the ordinary measure of the lawfulness of enforcement. And even if we could identify such exorbitant codes, we do not know by what standard (or what right) we would decide.The Court goes on to say (and this gets into the legal weeds a bit) that even an "objective" standard of "reasonableness" (from Mimms, 1977) would be too "subjective. And Scalia (who wrote the unanimous opinion in Whren) don't play that subjective game! All police need is "probably cause" of a traffic violation. And that is a very low bar indeed.
Ordering somebody from a car during a car stop is distinct from the "reasonable suspicion" to stop or frisk (Terry v. Ohio, 1968) or the "probably cause" needed to search or arrest (4th Amendment). Officers must "articulate" (Florida v. Royer, 1983) the relevant facts based on the "totality of the circumstances" (Illinois v. Gates, 1983, Burnham v. Superior Court, 1990 & United States v. Arvizu, 2002). The latter issues are connected to the "reasonableness" found in the 4th Amendment. If it's not "unreasonable," the Fourth Amendment doesn't kick in. But controlling people in a car stop is something else. In a car stop, you've already been "seized." Going back all the way to Prohibition (starting with Carroll v. US, 1925), car stops have been a bad place to look for 4th-Amendment rights.
Ordering somebody out of a car (or telling them to stay in the car) is rooted in a concern for officer safety. But officers don't have to justify that order based on officer safety. Permission comes with the car stop. The link between ordering a person out of a car an officer safety is more like your mom saying you should carry an umbrella because it might rain. "But it's sunny," you say. It doesn't matter. You can still carry that umbrella because one day it might rain. And you don't have to wait before opening it.
One comparison is with "search incident to arrest" (all people get searched after an arrest). Search incident to arrest is also based on concern for officer safety. And like ordering a woman for a car, there does not have to be any suspicion regarding the individual. No justification, articulation, or reasonableness is necessary. It's permitted. End of story.
Could any of this change? Sure. If the Court issues a new Landmark Decision. But until then these are the rules we have.