Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Terrible Supreme Court Decision

If you hadn't noticed, the Supreme Court just gave police wide-latitude to break into homes without search warrants. Why? In the service of the drug war, of course. And this wasn't just a conservative reflexive pro-police decision, it was an 8-1 majority.
Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs.
Yeah, there's no possibility for abuse there is there? Smell and hearing are extremely subjective. If the police want to go in badly enough, what's to stop them from saying they thought they smelled drugs, or they believed they heard someone doing something to destroy evidence? The Supreme Court has given them a ready excuse for violating the Fourth Amendment. Only one justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg of all people, seems to understand that.
she feared the ruling gave police an easy way to ignore 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. She said the amendment's "core requirement" is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house.

"How 'secure' do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and …forcibly enter?" Ginsburg asked.

Regardless of the merits of the original case in question, this decision sets a really bad precedent.

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