Supreme Court Trounces Fourth Amendment, Gives Police New Powers to Enter Home Without Warrant

According to the Los Angeles Times here, the Supreme Court has established broad new rules that gives police additional ways to enter a person’s home without a search warrant. Now, police may enter a person’s premises if the police officers believe that evidence is being destroyed (as evidenced by the sound of movement behind the door for example).

I believe that this interpretation of law will result in its overuse and exploitation by overzealous police officers. In effect, the Supreme Court majority has enabled the police to trample on our fundamental 4th Amendment protections. With increasing attempts at criminalization of more acts, I believe that this is the beginning of what will be recognized as unfair application of this ruling to the detriment of the American people.

I suspect that some police will find new and inventive ways to exploit this new rule. In drug cases, the theory is that suspects will make sounds such as flushing their drugs down the toilet. What about other crimes? What sounds will constitute the destruction of evidence? That isn’t really the issue. The case ruled that the police need only believe that the destruction of evidence is taking place. Any reason on the part of the police officers could be considered lawful reason for entry based on this ruling. Could the tapping of keys on a keyboard be the destruction of evidence? Could walking to the door to give the officers entrance be construed as the destruction of evidence? Could the mere suspicion that a suspect is in a given home be enough reason? Yes to all of these things. Furthermore, evidence obtained in such an entry for other crimes not specifically sought by the police can and will be used against the persons who live in the entered home.

I fear that police will begin finding ways to circumvent the Fourth Amendment much like Uncle Jimbo does to circumvent hunting laws in this South Park episode.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.