The latest from the Supremes
(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a Kentucky man who was arrested after police burst into his apartment without a search warrant because they smelled marijuana and feared he was trying to get rid of incriminating evidence.
Voting 8-1, the justices reversed a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that threw out the evidence gathered when officers entered Hollis King’s apartment.
The court said there was no violation of King’s constitutional rights because the police acted reasonably. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.
Officers knocked on King’s door in Lexington and thought they heard noises that indicated whoever was inside was trying to get rid of incriminating evidence.
Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court that people have no obligation to respond to the knock or, if they do open the door, allow the police to come in. In those cases, officers who wanted to gain entry would have to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant.
But Alito said, “Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame.”
In her dissent, Ginsburg said her colleagues were giving police an easy way to routinely avoid getting warrants in drug cases. “Police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant,” she said.
Now even the noises of getting up to answer the knock on the door could be interpreted by police as an attempt to destroy evidence, allowing them to enter without a warrant (making Alito’s pathetic excuses irrelevant).