The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has struck down the “caretaking” case proposed by the Biden administration. The said case tested if the police can be allowed to enter private property without a warrant if people believed a person poses a threat to himself/herself or to others.
The SCOTUS ruled in the case Caniglia v. Strom that “caretaking” doesn’t justify entering a person’s private residence to confiscate firearms because people believed the individual to have expressed suicidal thoughts. In this case, the man was brought to a local mental health facility in order to receive a psychiatric evaluation.
Caretaking Exception Usually Applies to Vehicles – Not Homes
According to Forbes, in the said case, police officers entered the person’s home due to a “community caretaking” exception. This supposedly allows entry if it benefits the interest of the public. However, it more often applied to vehicular incidents, not those that take place in homes.
The Forbes report added that law enforcement favored this in the particular case. The Biden administration’s Justice Department also mentioned in an amicus brief that the police should have the ability to get into homes – even without a warrant – in such cases.
While law enforcement and the current administration supports it, the Supreme Court thinks otherwise. The SCOTUS ruled that such an “exception” goes against the Fourth Amendment law on unreasonable search and seizure.
As per Justice Clarence Thomas, if something is reasonable for vehicles, it doesn’t mean the same goes for homes. Thomas then noted that “community caretaking” did not account for “a standalone doctrine” that would justify searches and seizures without warrants inside homes.
The Supreme Court ruled in the case unanimously.