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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.

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