On 12 May, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
Now the United States Supreme Court has decided that it’s okay for cops to bust into your home if they think you’re trying to “get rid of evidence”:
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a Kentucky man who was arrested after police burst into his apartment without a search warrant because they smelled marijuana and feared he was trying to get rid of incriminating evidence.
Voting 8-1, the justices reversed a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that threw out the evidence gathered when officers entered Hollis King’s apartment.
The court said there was no violation of King’s constitutional rights because the police acted reasonably. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.
Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court that people have no obligation to respond to the knock or, if they do open the door, allow the police to come in. In those cases, officers who wanted to gain entry would have to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant.
But Alito said, “Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame.”
The case concerned exceptions to the Fourth Amendment requirement that police need a warrant to enter a home.
If they choose not to allow the police entrance to their home, the precedent in Indiana allows the cops to simply break down the door, even unlawfully, and residents have no right to resist or protect themselves.
……An odd set of facts led to Monday’s ruling.
Police were only at King’s apartment building because they were chasing a man who sold cocaine to a police informant. The man entered King’s building and ducked into an apartment. The officers heard a door slam in a hallway, but by the time they were able to look down it, they saw only two closed doors.
They didn’t know which one the suspect had gone through, but, smelling burnt pot, chose the apartment on the left.
In fact, the suspect had gone into the apartment on the right. Police eventually arrested him, too, but prosecutors later dropped charges against him for reasons that were not explained in court papers.
They entered the wrong apartment because they smelled pot. Somehow I don’t thing the fugitive they sought would have bothered to light up a joint after immediately running and hiding from the cops. Even after the actual suspect was caught, the charges were dropped. So what happens to the innocent person they busted in on? Do they have any legal recourse?
There are few exigent circumstances that require warrantless searches or forced entry by police officers. If someone’s life is in danger, if there’s an assault or burglary taking place, or if a felon flees into a house to escape capture, then common sense tells you that law enforcement has to get in ASAP and not worry about a warrant.
To paraphrase what I said on the Indiana post:
Aside from the ‘exigent circumstances’…the court opened up a gargantuan Pandora’s Box. Errors in police judgement now override the Bill of Rights. This gives the green light to corrupt cops who like to kick in doors as an abuse of authority.
Gangster thugs have been known to disguise themselves as FBI agents and police officers when committing home invasions. Just think of a homeowner’s hesitation resulting in their murder, now that the Supremes have given leeway to anyone wearing a police uniform.
“Searching for drugs” just became a license to violate your rights, and cover the asses of cops who raid the wrong place. This has the possibility of wide-spread abuse and subsequent lawsuits. Irresponsible judicial dumbasses like the Indiana Supremes, and now the Federal Supremes, don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions. They’re not on the receiving end of illegal entry and no police officer will even think of approaching their homes.
The Fourth Amendment has been effectively shit-canned.
- While You Were Sleeping, They Abolished the Fourth Amendment (mountainrepublic.net)
- Kentucky v. King and Police-Created Exigent Circumstances (volokh.com)
- Indiana Becomes Police State: Supreme Court Overrules 4th Amendment (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)