Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kelo Revisited

Court Can't Decide Whether Home is Castle
Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 7, 2006, at 8

In Georgia v. Randolph, 126 S.Ct. 413 (March 22, 2006), the U.S. Supreme Court majority ruled that the Fourth Amendment is violated where the police conduct a search of a house with the consent of an occupant, if a co-occupant has objected to the search. I don't necessarily have a problem with this rule though I think the dissent had the better analysis.

What I did have a problem with was the majority's audacity to declare that "[s]ince we hold to the 'centuries-old principle of respect for the privacy of the home, it is beyond dispute that the home is entitled to special protection as the center of the private lives of our people.' We have, after all, lived our whole national history with an understanding of 'the ancient adage that a man's home is his castle to the point that the poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown.'"

This is the same five-member majority - Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - that just a couple of years ago declared that the Constitution is not violated when the government takes someone's home and hands it over to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The Constitution apparently allows the government to seize the property of law-abiding citizens but does not allow the government to search it for contraband even when one occupant has consented to the search.