Judge Alex Kozinski: The Fourth Amendment is Gone.


Damon W. Root
Reason.com
February 24, 2010

Last week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an en banc rehearing of the case United States v. Lemus, which dealt with a warrantless police search of a suspect’s home after he was arrested outside of it. As a result of the 9th Circuit’s denial, the search will stand, which has left Chief Judge Alex Kozinski none too happy. In dissent, Kozinksi basically accused his colleagues of abandoning the Fourth Amendment:

This is an extraordinary case: Our court approves, without blinking, a police sweep of a person’s home without a warrant, without probable cause, without reasonable suspicion and without exigency—in other words, with nothing at all to support the entry except the curiosity police always have about what they might find if they go rummaging around a suspect’s home. Once inside, the police managed to turn up a gun “in plain view”—stuck between two cushions of the living room couch—and we reward them by upholding the search.

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Did I mention that this was an entry into somebody’s home, the place where the protections of the Fourth Amendment are supposedly at their zenith?…

The opinion misapplies Supreme Court precedent, conflicts with our own case law and is contrary to the great weight of authority in the other circuits. It is also the only case I know of, in any jurisdiction covered by the Fourth Amendment, where invasion of the home has been approved based on no showing whatsoever. Nada. Gar nichts. Rien du tout. Bupkes.

Whatever may have been left of the Fourth Amendment after [United States v. Black] is now gone. The evisceration of this crucial constitutional protector of the sanctity and privacy of what Americans consider their castles is pretty much complete. Welcome to the fish bowl.

Read the whole thing here (.pdf). In our July 2006 issue, Shikha Dalmia interviewed Judge Kozinski about free speech, privacy, libertarianism, and more.


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