Supreme Court declines to broaden police power in warrantless searches of homes
The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously declined to give police broad power to search homes without warrants.
Why it matters: In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged the Court has maintained that a community caretaking exception allows police to search cars without a warrant in certain dangerous situations. But he wrote Monday that the exception does not extend broadly to the home.
Background: The case stems from a Rhode Island man's lawsuit against police for entering his home and seizing his guns without a warrant. His wife, who was not at their house, had been worried he might harm himself and asked the police to conduct a wellness check on her husband.
- A lower court had ruled the search had been covered by the Fourth Amendment's community caretaking clause.
What they're saying: "What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes," Thomas wrote for the court.
- "[T]his recognition that police officers perform many civic tasks in modern society was just that — a recognition that these tasks exist, and not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere."
The bottom line: "The Supreme Court reaffirmed the principle that a person’s home is their castle," Daniel Woislaw, a lawyer at a libertarian litigation firm that filed an amicus brief in the case, said in a statement per The Hill.