Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Score one for the Constitution despite the new CJ

Court rules restricts cops in searches - Crime & Punishment - :
"Justices, in a 5-3 decision, said that police did not have the authority to enter and search the home of a small town Georgia lawyer even though the man’s wife invited them in."

Despite the emotional appeal that this will somehow abet spouse abuse pushed by those who want to destroy the Constitution, Chief Justice Roberts is wrong and the Court's majority correct on this one.

The police are not hampered in responding to 911 calls by this ruling. They can escort the battered spouse to a shelter or other safe place. In states like Pennsylvania they can take her directly to a magistrate who will issue an order to the police to return to the home and throw the alleged batterer out in the street.

There is also nothing here to prevent a spouse who has called the police to report abuse from giving the responding officers information on which they might base a request for a search warrant. It has been a long time since the legal system regarded the wife as incompetent to act against her husband or vice versa - the old doctrine that not only were they one flesh in the eyes of the church, but they were one person in the eyes of the law.

All the Court has done in this case is to read the Constitution. While that is a radical step nowadays, it is a hopeful sign. Or, it would be if the new CJ who is likely to be there for the next 30 years wasn't on the wrong side.


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