(USA Features) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in a rare unanimous decision against the Biden administration regarding a gun confiscation case in Rhode Island.
In a 9-0 decision, the high court ruled that police are not legally permitted to enter homes without a search warrant even in cases where doing so might be of benefit to the public interest.
The ruling strikes down a position among law enforcement and the Biden administration that entering without a warrant under a “community caretaking” exception is justified.
- ‘If Guns Are Outlawed, I’ll Be An Outlaw’ — Get your FREE cap today!
The case, Caniglia v. Strom, examined whether police were acting lawfully and constitutionally when they entered a man’s home and took his firearms without a warrant after he allegedly expressed thoughts of suicide and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.
The officers entered the home under a “community caretaking” exception which gives them authority to do so without a warrant if there could be benefits to the public. That has generally applied to vehicles but not to homes.
The Justice Department said in an amicus brief filed in support of the action that police ought to have access to homes without warrants in instances where they are “objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety.”
But justices ruled that such exemptions cannot be extended to homes because they are prevented by the Fourth Amendment, which requires police to not only obtain a warrant but to also list what actions are to be executed by officers.
The high court’s ruling overturns a pair of lower court rulings that sided with police officers, who argued that the amendment “does not prohibit law enforcement officers from diffusing a volatile situation in a home to protect the residents or others.”
“What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion for the court, adding that the previous standard allowing the “community caretaking” exception was not “a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home.”
The ruling doesn’t affect officers’ ability to take “reasonable steps to assist those who are inside a home and in need of aid” that are protected under a separate “exigent circumstances” doctrine, noted Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a concurring opinion.
Those instances include when an elderly person has fallen or to prevent a potential suicide.