Court Watch: Supreme Court Guts Fourth Amendment

Thursday, 19 May 2011

First the Supreme Court decided that when the authors of the First Amendment to the Constitution sought to prohibit Congress from abridging people's freedom of speech, they really meant that Congress couldn't prohibit corporations' freedom to spend money (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). Then they ruled that the Second Amendment, which clearly says that the federal government can't keep states from creating armed militias, really means that states can't prohibit the practically unrestricted proliferation of deadly weapons to almost any citizen (McDonald v. Chicago). Now, in a ruling that hasn't yet made the splash of the previous two, the Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the necessity of first obtaining a warrant no longer applies.

In an astounding 8-1 ruling on Monday, Kentucky v. King, the Supreme Court declared open season on all suspects of any crime for which tangible evidence might be hidden inside the suspect's place of residence. They upheld the actions of police officers in Lexington, KY, who kicked down an apartment door, without first obtaining a warrant, because they believed that a suspect inside might be destroying evidence. The fact that the suspect wasn't destroying evidence, and in fact wasn't even in the apartment whose door they kicked in, didn't stop the police from arresting those inside the apartment for smoking marijuana and possessing other drugs and drug paraphernalia. The Court ruling gives carte blanche to police officers throughout the country to forego getting search warrants to enter homes if they believe it's possible that someone inside might be destroying evidence. Since it's almost always possible that someone inside might be destroying evidence at any given time, obtaining a search warrant is now no longer necessary. Welcome to the police state.

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