(5-18-21) The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that an exception to the Fourth Amendment for “community caretaking” does not allow police to enter and search a home without a warrant.
The suit was filed by a Rhode Island man, Edward Caniglia, after police officers searched his home and seized two handguns without a warrant in 2015. During an argument with his wife, Caniglia had placed a handgun on the dining room table and asked her to
“shoot [him] and get it over with”
Caniglia’s wife left and spent the night elsewhere, and after not being able to reach him the next day, called the police. The police found Caniglia on his porch; he denied he was suicidal but agreed to go to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation
“on the condition that the officers would not confiscate his firearms.”
After Caniglia left the police entered the home and took the guns.
In November (2020) the the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to uphold a warrantless gun confiscation ruling
The DOJ argued that when government officials enter a private space in the interest of public health or safety rather than investigating wrongdoing, the question of “probably cause” becomes secondary to that of “whether their actions are objectively reasonable.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the unanimous opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Brett Kavanaugh each wrote brief concurring opinions to clarify what they described as the limits of the court’s ruling.