The Lady Speaks

USSC: All occupants must okay searches w/o warrants

In a ruling that will have a chilling effect on women in abusive relationships, the Supreme Court ruled that all occupants of a dwelling (ie: house, dorm, etc) must give consent to a search of the premises. No one party has rights of consent over another.

From the Associated Press:

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police without a warrant cannot search a home when one resident says to come in but another tells them to go away, and the court’s new leader complained that the ruling could hamper investigations of domestic abuse.

Justices, in a 5-3 decision, said that police did not have the authority to enter and search the home of a small town Georgia lawyer even though the man’s wife invited them in.

The officers, who did not have a search warrant, found evidence of illegal drugs.


Georgia’s Supreme Court ruled for Scott Randolph, and the high court agreed.

‘This case has no bearing on the capacity of the police to protect domestic victims,’ Souter wrote. ‘No question has been raised, or reasonably could be, about the authority of the police to enter a dwelling to protect a resident from domestic violence; so long as they have good reason to believe such a threat exists.’ [emphasis mine]

Justice Anthony Kennedy was the swing voter, joining the court’s four more liberal members.

Roberts’ dissent was unusually long — almost as long as the main opinion. He predicted ‘severe’ consequences for women who invite police in only to be overruled by their husbands.

What, may I ask, is ‘good reason’? Does a woman need to be bleeding or bruised? Does she need to be unconcious? Does she need two witnesses? Do they need to have received two or more 911 calls from that residence.

You can see the future. Some woman is going to be killed by her significant other, and when the cops are asked why they did nothing to help, they’ll say, ‘We just didn’t have a good enough reason at the time to believe there was a threat.’


March 24, 2006 - Posted by | Courts, Crime, War On Women


  1. This could be a problem, but I’m not sure what other choice there is.

    Comment by Brian | March 24, 2006 | Reply

  2. I have to be honest – I don’t either. I’ve been thinking about this, and I can – kind of – see what they’re saying, especially when looked at in the context of the current debate over the illegal wire-tapping.

    Under the 4th Amendment, every person has the right to say no and tell the officers to get a warrant. It doesn’t mean you’re hiding anything, it simply means you want them to prove they have probable cause.

    So, as long as they have probable cause to suspect something, they can get a warrant. Okay – that works for me, but if they have to wait for a warrant because someone said no – how do they know that evidence is still going to be there?

    Comment by PA_Lady | March 25, 2006 | Reply

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