On Monday, the Supreme Court released its opinion in Caniglia v. Strom, which unanimously held that a lower court’s extension of Cady v. Dombrowski’s “community caretaking” exception into the home defied the logic and holding of Cady, as well as violated the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. With the court’s unanimity in Caniglia, the home remains the most sacred space under the Fourth Amendment; its sanctity literally houses its privilege. Sans warrant, exigency or consent, governmental search and seizure within it is unconstitutional.
A pithy four pages “long,” the opinion was unanimous and unambiguous: If police do not have the homeowner’s consent, an “exigent” circumstance, or a judicial warrant authorizing a search, then no version of Cady’s car exception applies to police entry into the home under the Fourth Amendment. “What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Thomas wrote.
As always with realty – and, per Caniglia, the court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence — location matters. Specifically, the location of Cady’s warrantless search and seizure – a post-accident, routine search of an intoxicated, off-duty officer’s damaged and impounded car — simply cannot compare to a search of and seizure within a home. Governmental searches of vehicles regularly occur via exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement; a myriad of decisions have constitutionalized warrantless searches of vehicles, their compartments, their containers and even their occupants. Not one of these warrantless exceptions is available for the home.
Accordingly, caretaking under Cady is not carte blanche for police to search or seize within the home, nor do their “caretaking” duties create a “standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home,” Thomas wrote. Cady, itself, he noted, drew an “unmistakable distinction between vehicles and homes,” constitutionally embedding the exception outside the home.
This is a close call, but I agree with the ruling. In the digital age, we are trying to figure out how far we want our government to be able to know our private information. I fall on the side of strong 4th Amendment protections. If law enforcement thinks that someone is guilty of a crime, then they should be required to get a warrant to search and use their cell phone data just like if they were searching their home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Police generally need a warrant to look at records that reveal where cellphone users have been, the Supreme Court ruled Friday in a big victory for privacy interests in the digital age.
The justices’ 5-4 decision marks a big change in how police may obtain information that phone companies collect from the ubiquitous cellphone towers that allow people to make and receive calls, and transmit data. The information has become an important tool in criminal investigations.
Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court’s four liberals, said cellphone location information “is detailed, encyclopedic and effortlessly compiled.” Roberts wrote that “an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements” as they are captured by cellphone towers.
Roberts said the court’s decision is limited to cellphone tracking information and does not affect other business records, including those held by banks. He also wrote that police still can respond to an emergency and obtain records without a warrant.
But the dissenting conservative justices, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, cast doubt on Roberts’ claim that the decision was limited. Each wrote a dissenting opinion and Kennedy said in his that the court’s “new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement” and “keep defendants and judges guessing for years to come.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is putting limits on the ability of police to search vehicles when they do not have a search warrant.
The court sided 8-1 Tuesday with a Virginia man who complained that police walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering his motorcycle, which turned out to be stolen. They acted without a warrant, relying on a line of Supreme Court cases generally allowing police to search a vehicle without a warrant.
The justices said the automobile exception does not apply when searching vehicles parked adjacent to a home.
Virginia’s Supreme Court said the case involved what the Supreme Court has called the “automobile exception,” which generally allows police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they believe the vehicle contains contraband.