The Supreme Court on Monday shut down a police attempt to enter homes without a warrant, siding against the Biden administration.
The court, in a unanimous decision, found that police, using the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions on unreasonable searches and seizures, were not allowed to enter a Rhode Island man’s home and take his guns. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court’s opinion, saying that police had violated the “very core of the Fourth Amendment.”
The case arose out of a 2015 incident in which a Rhode Island married couple argued over attempted suicide. At one point, the husband, Edward Caniglia, gave his wife, Kim, an unloaded gun and told her to kill him. She left the house instead and later called local police to check on him.
When the police arrived, they entered the house and confiscated Caniglia’s guns. He later sued. A district court sided against him. When he brought the case to an appeals court, it also decided against him — and extended the “community caretaking exception” for police to search cars without a warrant to homes as well.
It was in this last decision, Thomas wrote, that the lower courts had erred, arguing that the home is a much more private sphere than a car.
“What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Thomas wrote.
Prior to arguments, the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the police. In a brief filed to the court, the Justice Department argued that the Fourth Amendment hinges on a question of “reasonableness.”
“The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception, but instead whether those actions were reasonable,” attorneys for the department wrote. “And under all of the circumstances here, they were.”
The Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts for further proceedings in light of its decision.
Author : Nicholas Rowan
Source : Washington Examiner : Supreme Court shuts down police attempts to search homes without a warrant