Katy, Bar the Door

I am in shock this morning. For the first time I can remember, I agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an 8-1 decision, with Ginsburg in the minority, the Supreme Court ruled that police can enter your home with even less justification than before. Specifically, they can enter your home if, after knocking, they hear you “moving about,” presumably to hide evidence like illegal drugs.

The case originated in KY. It has previously been recognized that police may enter a home without a warrant under extenuating circumstances, such as hearing screams or chasing a suspect into a home. This is a bit different however. The KY case involved police going into the wrong home and catching someone smoking pot (cocaine was also found). After knocking to find a suspect who had run into the apartment complex, police essentially lucked into an arrest on an unrelated case.

Much as I respect law enforcement officers in general, I do have to say that this opens the door for all manner of rogues to break down doors on the thinnest of grounds. I have not been able to verify the source this morning, and so will not share the particulars, but at least one sheriff is reported to have opined that this allows random searches of homes. This he thinks a good thing, for reasons I cannot fathom.

We have become a nation of scaredy cats. Fear of the terrorist/drug dealer next door has prompted us to give in to an ever more powerful police state. Let us hope we don’t exemplify Ben Franklin’s observation that “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Fortunately, the High Court left some wiggle room. They sent the case back to the KY court to decide whether entry by the police constituted an emergency. Let’s hope not. Such a flimsy interpretation of the Fourth Amendment bodes ill for all of us.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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1 Response to Katy, Bar the Door

  1. Dick Richards says:

    I’m with the RuthBader on this one, too. What are those guys thinking?


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