The Supreme Court has dealt the Biden administration a defeat on a “caretaking” case. The case tested whether or not police could enter private property without a warrant if an individual was believed to pose a threat to himself or others.
In the case Caniglia v. Strom, the Supreme Court ruled that “caretaking” did not justify entering a man’s home to remove firearms because he was believed to have expressed suicidal thoughts. The man was taken to a local mental health facility for psychiatric evaluation.
“Police entered the home under a ‘community caretaking’ exception that allows entry in cases where doing so benefits the public interest, which has traditionally applied to incidents regarding vehicles but not in homes,” Forbes reported.
“That exception had been favored by the law enforcement in the case and also the Biden administration, whose Justice Department said in an amicus brief that police should be able to enter homes without a warrant in cases that are ‘objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety’,” Forbes’ report continued.
The Supreme Court ruled that such a purported ‘exception’ violates the Fourth Amendment law against unreasonable search and seizure.
“What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion. Thomas noted that the “community caretaking” exception did not constitute “a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling was unanimous.