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RULING GIVES POLICE CARTE BLANCHE TO ENTER HOMES WITHOUT A WARRANT
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 26, 2011) —The Indiana Supreme Court ruled on May 12 that residents of that state may not deny entry into their homes by a police officer, even if he or she does not possess a search warrant. Justice Steven David stated in his opinion that the ruling was in accordance with “modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence” and appears to presume that an arrest would be a necessary outcome of such entry on the part of law enforcement.
The court’s decision was 3-2, with the two dissenters each referring to police entry without a warrant as “unlawful” and “illegally,” respectively. Other writers have also referred to police entry without a warrant as “unlawful” or “illegal.”
The specific case which brought the recent decision involved a domestic dispute between a husband and wife where the wife had called for help from law enforcement after her husband began throwing objects inside their dwelling following an argument.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Of the decision, The Daily KOS stated, “I personally find it fascinating that Indiana State Supreme Court Justices now believe it is within their scope to override the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The two dissenting Justices, Justice Dickson and Justice Rucker, were similarly appalled.”
In 2007, Richard Barnes and his wife Mary had been arguing outside of their home, and Mrs. Barnes reportedly called 911 after going inside. Her husband had taken her phone and thrown it inside the apartment after she had attempted to contact her sister. When police arrived, Barnes reportedly told them that he intended to leave the premises, but when police officers attempted to enter, Barnes pushed blocked the doorway and ended up pushing one of the officers who continued to gain entry against a wall. The officers tasered Barnes, who had to be hospitalized as a result.
The officer used a stun gun on Barnes, who was later convicted of several misdemeanor charges but claimed after his trial that the officers’ entry into his home resulted in “reversible error.”
A Nebraska-based newspaper editorial stated, “It is noteworthy to again mention that this decision affects Indiana alone, however it has opened the door of opportunity for other states to follow suit. Let us hope that Nebraska will not be one of them.”
The Sovereign Man blog stated that the decison “effectively rejected” both the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution.
It has been reported that the U.S. Supreme Court has also issued a decision which violates the Fourth Amendment, contending that police may enter a home “in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence otherwise might be destroyed.”
The case of Marbury v. Madison determined that the U.S. Supreme Court can exercise “judicial review” of acts passed by Congress but not with the purpose to “serve partisan political agendas.”
Indiana citizens held a protest of the ruling at the State House on May 25, 2011 “to take the temperature of freedom in Indiana.” One attendee stated that he is organizing a political action committee to recall Justice David and described the ruling as “an outrage.” David has been identified by some protesters as an “enemy of the Constitution.”
Another protester said, “A person acting unlawful, whether they be a government agent or not, is not anything but a criminal.”
The Associated Press reported that the recent Indiana ruling “brought Indiana law in line with most other states” but offered no evidence to support the claim, also omitting any reference to “exigent circumstances” which might require police to enter a home without a warrant in an emergency situation.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who appointed Justice David, was reportedly “puzzled” at the court’s decision, and Daniels’s general counsel was quoted as having said, “the court should reconsider the case” because of a contradictory law signed by Daniels in 2006.
Is the Indiana court’s ruling constitutional? Will it stand?