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News Link • Bill of Rights

4th Amendment Disappearing: Supreme Court affirms police action

he Supreme Court on Monday gave law enforcement officers new authority to enter a home without a warrant when they have reason to believe that drug evidence is being destroyed. The court ruled 8 to 1 that Kentucky police who smelled marijuana at an apartment door, knocked loudly and announced themselves, and then kicked in the door when they thought the drugs were being destroyed did nothing wrong. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the conduct of the police before they entered the apartment was “entirely lawful” and neither violates nor threatens a person’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches or seizures. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg strongly disagreed. “The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases,” Ginsburg wrote. “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.”

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