State Power: Supreme Court Ruling Expands Police Authority in Home Searches

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent in the police search case. (Nikki Kahn / Getty Images / August 29, 2013)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent in the police search case. (Nikki Kahn / Getty Images / August 29, 2013)

The LA Times’  David Savage reports:  Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a Los Angeles case.

“Instead of adhering to the warrant requirement, today’s decision tells the police they may dodge it.”

— Justice Ginsburg

The 6-3 ruling, triggered by a Los Angeles Police Department arrest in 2009, gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency.

The majority, led by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., said police need not take the time to get a magistrate’s approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches. The court had previously held that such protections were at the “very core” of the 4th Amendment and its ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The case began when LAPD officers responded to reports of a street robbery near Venice Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue. They pursued a suspect to an apartment building, heard shouting inside a unit and knocked on the door. Roxanne Rojas opened the door, but her boyfriend, Walter Fernandez, told officers they could not enter without a warrant.

“You don’t have any right to come in here. I know my rights,” Fernandez shouted from inside the apartment, according to court records.

Fernandez was arrested in connection with the street robbery and taken away. An hour later, police returned and searched his apartment, this time with Rojas’ consent. They found a shotgun and gang-related material.

In Tuesday’s decision, the high court said Fernandez did not have the right to prevent the search of his apartment once he was gone and Rojas had consented.

In the past, the court has frowned upon most searches of residences except in the case of an emergency or if the police had a warrant from a judge…. Read the rest…

latimes.com

david.savage@latimes.com


One Comment on “State Power: Supreme Court Ruling Expands Police Authority in Home Searches”


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