US Supreme Court Rules It’s O.K. For Cops to Search Without a Warrant If They Smell Marijuana Smoke

by 8 years ago

“The Court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases. In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, nevermind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant. I dissent from the Court’s reduction of the Fourth Amendment’s force. …

“Wasting a clear opportunity to obtain a warrant,” therefore, “disentitles the officer from relying on subsequent exigent circ*mstances.” As that court observed, nothing made it impracticable for the police to post officers on the premises while proceeding to obtain a warrant authorizing their entry. …

In Johnson, the Court confronted this scenario: standing outside a hotel room, the police smelled burning opium and heard “some shuffling or noise” coming from the room. Could the police enter the room without a warrant? The Court answered no. Explaining why, the Court said: “The right of officers to thrust themselves into a home is … a grave concern, not only to the individual but to a society which chooses to dwell in reasonable security and freedom from surveillance. When the right of privacy must reasonably yield to the right of search is, as a rule, to be decided by a judicial officer, not a policeman … “If the officers in this case were excused from the constitutional duty of presenting their evidence to a magistrate, it is difficult to think of [any] case in which [a warrant] should be required.”

I agree, and would not allow an expedient knock to override the warrant requirement. Instead, I would accord that core requirement of the Fourth Amendment full respect. When possible, “a warrant must generally be secured,” the Court acknowledges. There is every reason to conclude that securing a warrant was entirely feasible in this case, and no reason to contract theFourth Amendment’s dominion.”


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