Tuesday, May 17, 2011

US Supreme Court (#SCOTUS) Green Lights Warrantless Searches in 8-1 Decision



WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court by an 8-1 vote Monday bolstered police authority to break down a door and seize drugs or other evidence of wrongdoing if officers believe it is being destroyed.

Last week the Supreme Court of Indiana was busy chipping away at the 4th Amendment, too. Since this seems to be a bit of a trend, a review of the history of our right to be "secure in our houses" may be helpful.

On June 10, 1215 AD, after prolonged rebellion and frustrating negotiation, a group of England’s most influential barons entered London to force the disastrous King John Softsword into accepting a revolutionary charter of individual freedoms.

Five days later in the Runnymede meadow of Surrey County, John affixed his royal seal onto what became known as the Magna Carta. It still exists on the books today in England and Wales.

This document was one of the more important antecedents to the US Constitution; its proclamations ended the absolutism of England’s monarchy and spelled out very clear rights and freedoms, including, among others, the right of a man to enjoy his private property without trespass from government officials.

Over 550 years later, the framers of the Constitution codified this right in the 4th Amendment to be secure in one’s private property.  Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court effectively rejected both documents in two separate cases.

In the first case of Lacey v. State of Indiana, the Court ruled that police officers serving a warrant on a private home may simply walk right in without knocking.

The second case of Barnes v. State of Indiana is far more startling. The case deals with one Richard Barnes, a regular Joe citizen of Indiana, who was in the midst of marital problems with his wife one evening in 2007. The couple was arguing when police arrived to the scene and attempted to enter the home.

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