The last remaining right that the American people have against complete tyranny is the Second Amendment. But that protection is slowly, deliberately, and coordinately being erased.
In a case that could have wide-ranging effects on policing in America, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments next month to decide if police can make warrantless searches of a private residence under the “community caretaking” doctrine.
FPC and FPF announce the filing of an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Caniglia v. Strom, a case about whether a “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home. https://t.co/y9vgTtdiHJ
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) January 15, 2021
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from warrantless searches as one of America’s basic rights.
Before a police officer or other government official can enter a private home, they must show a judge probable cause that an item is present and that a crime has been committed.
If the judge finds there is sufficient probable cause, a search warrant is issued.
There are widely-accepted exceptions, called “exigent circumstance,” for emergency situations.
[Like the “red flag” law, officials have been trying to erase those protections for years.]
These exigent circumstances involved protection of life and evidence. If an officer sees suspects destroying evidence through a window, he can enter the home to stop the destruction.
Also, if an officer sees someone having a heart attack, the officer can enter the home to render aid.
— The Truth About Guns (@guntruth) January 27, 2021
Other than these exigent circumstances, the courts have also defined a “community caretaking” doctrine to the Fourth Amendment when it comes to policing.
In the Supreme Court case of Cady v. Dombrowski, the court held that under certain circumstances, the police may search a motor vehicle without first obtaining a warrant if they are engaged in a “community caretaking” function, meaning a duty wholly divorced from the investigation of a crime or the enforcement of criminal laws.
“The fact that the protection of the public might, in the abstract, have been accomplished by ‘less intrusive’ means does not, by itself, render the search unreasonable.” Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433, 447 (1973).
Oh look, early erosion of 4A.
— Gratefullee (@brief_lee) December 2, 2020
The Supreme Court said the “community protection” exception did not violate the Fourth Amendment because:
“(Police perform) community custody functions, totally separate from detection, investigation or acquisition. evidence relating to the violation of a criminal law.”
The “community caretaking” doctrine was not limited by the court to emergency situations like exigent circumstances are. If the officer has “reasonable” cause to believe there is a danger to the community, a warrantless search is permissible.
SCOTUS grants cert in a 4A case, Caniglia v. Strom, 19-1764, on the community caretaking exception to the warrant req. And implicitly about how willing the Court should be to adopt non-law-enforcement reasonableness standards vs. a warrant requirement.https://t.co/mrv5iw1y2k pic.twitter.com/kBJp1Vjc2c
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) November 21, 2020
The Constitutional Accountability Center pointed out that the ruling in Cady v. Dombrowski has been widely interpreted by lower courts to allow room for the application of the exception in a private home:
“The Court made clear, however, that the exception applied only to motor vehicles and did not extend to people’s homes. Despite the clear line drawn by the Court, numerous lower courts have extended the community caretaking exception to allow warrantless entries into, and seizures from, people’s homes.”
In the case of Caniglia v. Strom, the Supreme Court is considering whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement should extend to the home. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next month.
“A police officer … must act as a master of emergencies, expected to aid those in distress, combat actual hazards, prevent potential hazards … & provide an infinite variety of services to preserve and protect community safety.” 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, Caniglia v. Strom pic.twitter.com/7AchohymMr
— Chief Brooks (@ChiefBrooksNPD) May 5, 2020
The case involves Cranston, Rhode Island residents Mr. and Mrs. Caniglia. The couple was arguing inside their residence, and the husband put an unloaded handgun on the kitchen table and told his wife, “shoot me now and finish this.”
The wife called the police, and when they arrived, the police convinced the husband to go to the hospital by ambulance for a crisis evaluation. The wife then told police that her husband kept two guns in the home.
Police conducted a warrantless search of the home.
The wife’s consent was invalid because the officers falsely told her that the husband had already consented to the seizure of the guns. Police located and seized both firearms.
Thanks to YOUR support, we filed an amicus brief at the United States Supreme Court in Caniglia v. Strom, a case about whether a “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home. You can read the brief at https://t.co/9IQbagn6Ce! pic.twitter.com/Zqhrfp3xsV
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) January 24, 2021
The officers had told the wife that her husband could pick up the firearms at the police station. However, when Mr. Caniglia tried to pick up the weapons, he was told it was department policy not to return weapons without a court order.