Supreme Court ruling expands police authority in home searches

by
February 26, 2014

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WASHINGTON — 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.

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.

  • vinceva3

    It’s a precarious situation, One occupant said they could enter one said they couldn’t. Who’s rights were being observed and whose denied?

    • antiliberalcryptonite

      By entering, they will certainly deny the rights of the occupant who protested. By not entering, the rights of the occupant who granted permission are not being denied, just their invitation being declined. No harm is done to the individual who invites them in if they decline to enter, but the individual who denies entry and is ignored is violated.

      Look at it this way – no harm is done to the vagina who requests the visit of a pénis and yet the pénis abstains, yet harm is done to the vagina who declines and yet is entered by force. Same scenario.

  • irategramma

    One by one, our rights and freedoms are falling like dominoes. I wonder how Alito will feel about it when it is his door they are knocking on.

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