Do you trust your roommate? Does your roommate have the iron will of Margaret Thatcher? Will your roommate to withstand police interrogation and harassment? Do you want them to be the only thing in between you and a criminal investigation? If not, you might want to consider moving.
Gone are the days when the police are required to get a search warrant before entering your home or apartment. Instead of asking a judge for permission to invade your private space, police now only need to ask your roommate or spouse for permission.
For many Americans, our understanding of legal statutes and constitutional principles come from Hollywood. We all know, on an extremely superficial level, what our Miranda Rights mean and that a search warrant is generally required for most searches thanks to our favorite detectives and ADAs from Law and Order. Although it’s great that these are now everyday phrases in our vocabulary, the unfortunate truth is that these protections are circumvented and abridged in a myriad of ways that are legal and commonplace. Although discussions on why your constitutional rights are important don’t make for great listicles, they are discussions that we need to have.
In a disturbing ruling this week, the Supreme Court has ruled that police may enter and search your home – despite your objections and without a warrant – so long as someone you live with gives them permission to do so. This ruling is in direct contrast to a 2006 decision which required police to defer to the person who objected to a search. The Legally Blonde lowdown of this week’s decision: your roommates are all that stand between you and a police search once you’re removed from the premises.
Remember back to your high school or college government class. In between lessons on Columbus and Lincoln, we learned about the Bill of Rights and the enumerated protections within these constitutional amendments which included protections from unreasonable search and seizure. This week’s ruling is being considered by many an affront to centuries of precedent and dangerous new territory.
Ever the voice of reason on the Court, Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg authored the minority opinion and noted that “instead of adhering to the warrant requirement, today’s decision tells the police they may dodge it, never mind ample time to secure the approval of a neutral magistrate.”
Why should you care? You’re just another millennial reading Thought Catalog at work or in between Netflix episodes and have nothing to hide from the police, right? You’re never going to be the subject of a police investigation so why bother to discuss this, right?
Search warrants are a powerful tool that the police employs when investigating suspected criminal activity. It allows the government the power to enter your home, disrupt your life, take your property, and gather evidence which can be used against you in a court of law. Having a neutral judge decide whether or not the police have enough probable cause to enter your home is meant to exist as a check against government abuse. As much as I love and trust the intelligence of my roommates (both are Truman Scholars, and one is also a Rhodes Scholar) I don’t feel comfortable transferring this protection to them.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, 52% of nonwhites and 40% of whites within the US do not have a great deal of confidence in our nations police force. This week’s ruling places a great deal more power and discretion in the hands of police and as a result could lead to greater abuses of power. In an age of warrantless wiretaps and other searches thanks to everyone’s favorite Patriot Act, we ought to be demanding increased protections of our constitutional rights. This is an issue that many American’s won’t be aware of unless they find themselves subject to a police search. Supreme Court precedence dictates the laws of the land and impacts every individual within our nation’s borders. These rulings often stand for decades and this ruling will shape the way in which police conduct searches from here on out.
Do you trust your roommate to protect your constitutional rights? Does your roommate understand what the Constitution is? Do you need a listicle to help explain to them why they should refuse to grant police access to your home without a warrant? Here it goes:
The 3 Reasons Why Your Roommate Still Shouldn’t Let The Police In Without A Warrant
1. Your right against unreasonable searches and seizures is one of the most fundamental in the Constitution.
2. The Constitution is pretty damn important.
3. Ruth Ginsburg says you should care.