Supreme Court To Rule On Police

( The Supreme Court doesn’t appear that it will immediately give unlimited power to police to enter someone’s home if they don’t have a warrant.

The court is hearing a case that involves a California driver that a police officer tailed after he honked his horn while he was listening to music. The driver in the case, Arthur Lange, was convicted of driving under the influence once he was confronted inside his garage in 2016.

Lange is trying to have his conviction overturned by arguing that the evidence in the case was obtained by highway patrol officer Aaron Weikert in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The justices are expected to rule on the case by the end of June. They heard arguments in the case recently.

It’s unlikely, though, that the justices will issue a broad decision that could find that any police future, regardless of the nature of the offense, would justify a warrantless entry.

As Stephen Breyer, one of the liberal justices, said:

“It seems ridiculous when your home isn’t your castle for terribly minor things.”

At the same time, Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, made a comparison to teenagers who may flee back to their home if they were caught drinking in a public park. He said such a situation would make a warrantless entry by police inappropriate.

He said:

“It doesn’t seem to be something that would warrant the officer, you know, breaking into the house.”

Weikert began following Lange in 2016 after he observed him honking his horn while driving. He said that he intended to pull him over for violating noise restrictions. That would have carried only a small fine.

According to the case filings, though, Weikert didn’t immediately turn on the emergency lights in his vehicle. Lange had reached his driveway by the time Weikert caught up with him, and that’s when he activated his lights.

While Lange was pulling into his garage, Weikert pulled into his driveway. In later questioning, Lange said he was unaware that the officer was following him.

The issue at hand in this case is that Lange’s garage door was just about to close when the officer prevented it from doing so by putting his foot under the door.

Weikert then said he smelled alcohol and ordered Lange to take a field sobriety test. That test found the driver was over the legal limit by more than three times. He was then charged with not only the noise infraction but also DUI.

Lange’s appeal was denied by lower courts, which deemed the situation a “hot pursuit” that would, then, allow a warrantless entry into his home.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court justices could rule that this situation does not fit in the “hot pursuit” category, which would then mean that a warrant would be needed for the officer to enter Lange’s garage to conduct the test.

Thomas, for one, said he believes the incident to be more of a “kind of meandering pursuit.”